The streaking men’s lacrosse team avoided a non-conference slip-up with a 7–5 victory against winless Providence (0–9) Tuesday night in Rhode Island.
The No. 16 Bulldogs (8–2, 2–2 Ivy) jumped out to an early lead for the second straight game, but needed three late goals to foil a Friar comeback and earn their fourth-straight win.
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“Providence had a great game plan and did a really good job — a lot better than their record indicates,” head coach Andy Shay said. “They played very hard and had you watched them, you would not have known they have not won a game … They gave it every bit of what we could handle and then some.”
Attacker Brendan Gibson ’10 gave the away squad the lead near the 10-minute mark of the first quarter with an unassisted goal, and it took less than three minutes for the Elis to rack up another three goals.
Midfielder Greg Mahony ’12 struck next for Yale, catching a feed from midfielder Matt Fuchs ’10 and bouncing a shot past the feet of goalie Christian Dzwilewski at 5:39. Midfielder Jerome Arnold ’10 added another goal at 4:52, and fellow midfielder Colin Still ’12 made it 4–0 with an unassisted tally at 4:01.
Gibson, the Bulldogs’ captain, said his team was able to capitalize early on against Providence’s man-to-man defense. But when the Friars shifted to a zone-style defense, the Blue found themselves struggling to hit the back of the net, he said.
“[Providence] switched its defensive style… [to] a really weird zone that I don’t think we had practiced against at all,” Gibson said.
The momentum turned just before the first quarter expired when Providence attacker Evan Helda beat goalie Johnathan Falcone ’11 with 18 seconds left in the frame to put the Friars on the board.
The home team kept the comeback going in the second quarter with two more goals. Yale outshot Providence, 6–5, in the period but the Friars’ switch to zone-style defense seemed an effective one as they kept the Elis from capitalizing that frame.
“Their zone was packing it in right around the goal and making us take those outside shots,” Mahony said. “We weren’t really used to that.”
Shay said Dzwilewski played extremely well in net and was another major factor in the team’s ability to shut down Yale’s attackers.
Providence players had more offensive success in the second quarter. Attacker Garrett Kanter scored at 12:18 and defender Ryan Vermette added another three minutes later to make it a 4–3 game at halftime.
The Friars erased the single-goal deficit five minutes into the third quarter, scoring with 9:54 left on the clock to tie things up, 4–4. And Providence didn’t stop there. The upstart home squad scored again with 2:15 left in the period to take a 5–4 lead.
Mahony said the Friars chose to hold the ball for much of the game rather than taking shots, which led to an low-scoring contest.
“It was a low-scoring game because the style [Providence] played just slowed the game down,” Mahony said, noting that the zone defense forced long Yale possessions. “They were content just running around the outside and not really going to the goal and shooting.”
But Yale finally rallied in the fourth frame.
Mahony jump-started the Eli momentum with his second goal of the night roughly four minutes into the last quarter, sneaking a low shot on the inside pipe past Dzwilewski’s foot to tie things up at 5–5.
Attacker Matt Gibson ’12 put the Bulldogs ahead exactly 10 seconds later when he scored off a feed from his brother. Matt Gibson, who has a team-leading 38 points and was named the Turfer NEILA Player of the Week earlier this week after a five-goal game against Dartmouth on Saturday.
Attacker Brian Douglass ’11, Yale’s leading goal-scorer, tallied the final goal of the night with 3:39 remaining on the clock. Defender Peter Johnson ’13 also came up with a key interception at the end of the game to cut the chances of a comeback by Providence.
“This was one of those games where everyone stayed positive, some of us made turnovers, and we just kept focusing on the next possession,” Mahony said. “It was one of those games we should have won by a lot more, but we’ll take it.”
Shay said the Elis struggled to find the back of the net throughout the contest.
“We couldn’t really hit our shots,” he said. “We got enough at the end of the day, but it made it very difficult and a sticky game.”
Yale returns to Ivy League play with an away game against Brown at 1 p.m. on Saturday.