Non-league opponent Bryant narrowly fended off a late-game rally by the men’s lacrosse team to upset Yale 9–7 on Saturday night.
The loss brought an end to a five-game winning streak for the No. 13 Bulldogs (9–3, 3–2 Ivy). Saturday turned out to be a day of surprises across the league, as Harvard topped No. 6 Princeton and Brown eked out a win against No. 8 Cornell. The Elis, who need a top-four conference spot to earn a berth to the inaugural postseason Ivy League tournament in late May, now sit in a three-way tie for second place in the Ancient Eight standings.
“For a long time Princeton and Cornell have been considered the best in the league and they’re often the ones that go to the [NCAA] tournament,” midfielder Max Rodman ’10 said. “But the fact of the matter is that it’s a league where everyone is very good, and where anybody can beat anybody.”
Yale’s Saturday contest against Bryant (9–5) had no bearing on the upcoming league tournament, but that didn’t make head coach Andy Shay any less disappointed with the game’s results.
“We weren’t great,” Shay said. “We lost focus. Bryant was very focused on us, and they came out and took it to us.”
Bryant was quick to get on the board Saturday night — midfielder Max Weisenberg scored an unassisted goal just 13 seconds into play to put his team ahead, 1–0.
Attacker Brian Douglass ’11 tied things up with about 10 minutes left in the first period, scoring off a feed from midfielder Matt Miller ’12. Then the visitors pulled ahead with 2:46 left in the quarter when midfielder Gary Crowley scored an extra-man goal. Yale evened the score again, with attacker Matt Gibson ’12 hitting the upper left corner of the net with two minutes left on the clock.
But Bryant pulled ahead once more with an unassisted goal 16 seconds before the end of the quarter. And the upstart squad never let up that lead for the remainder of the game.
Yale scored only once in the second quarter, while Bryant hit the net three times to take a 6–3 advantage heading into halftime. The away team widened that margin with two more tallies in the third quarter, again limiting Yale to just one goal in the15-minute stretch.
Bryant’s defense allows the fewest goals per game in Division I Lacrosse — just 6.5 on average.
“They have an unconventional defense — something we haven’t seen all year,” midfielder Gregory Mahony ’12 said. “It took us a little while to get used to it.”
The Elis finally rallied in the final frame, but the efforts at that point, as Shay put it, were “too little, too late.” The Bulldogs struck three times in the fourth frame to cut the deficit to 9–7 with just more than a minute left on the clock, but Yale’s final surge just wasn’t enough to overcome the away team.
“We didn’t have the ball enough,” Shay said. “I think [Bryant] held the ball the fourth quarter and that kept us from going on any kind of significant run.”
Mahony, who scored the Elis’ lone goal in the third period, got the home squad’s momentum going when he scored an unassisted goal four minutes into the quarter. Bryant’s midfielder Matt Larson countered with a goal two minutes later.
Mahony said the team pulled together in the fourth quarter, but only after playing with mostly individual efforts for the prior three periods.
“Once you get in a hole, everyone wants to do it themselves,” Mahony. “We didn’t start getting goals until we got out of that and worked as a team a little more.”
Yale hit the net twice more in the last five minutes of the game. Miller scored an extra-man goal off a feed from attacker Brendon Gibson ’10 at 5:05 and defender Michael McCormack ’13 got his third career goal to make the score 9–7 with one minute left. But that was as close as the Bulldogs ever came to closing the gap.
Yale returns to Reese Stadium for its last game of the regular season against Harvard next Saturday at 1 p.m. And after this weekend’s tough loss, Rodman said the team needs to come ready to play for the final Ivy contest.
“It’s a good wake up call,” Rodman said. “We have to get out there this week and make sure we bring everything we have against Harvard.”