With spring season just around the corner, the Yale men’s lacrosse team, ranked No. 17 in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) preseason polls, is on the move.
The Elis will compete in a total of 15 matchups this season, two of which will be scrimmages. The exhibition games — against Le Moyne and Tufts on Feb. 9 and 17, respectively — will provide the Bulldogs an opportunity to work on adjusting to the new NCAA lacrosse rules, train the fresh offensive lineup and hone the veteran defense.
Aside from defenseman and long stick midfielder Mike Quinn ’16, the Bulldog defensive unit consists entirely of returning sophomores, juniors and seniors. The Eli scoring defense was ranked at No. 18 in the nation and at No. 3 in the Ivy League by the end of last season. Defenseman Peter Johnson ’13 was named USILA Honorable Mention All-American last year and ranked 16th in Division I with 1.81 caused turnovers. Captain and defenseman Michael McCormack ’13, who ranked sixth in the nation with 2.13 caused turnovers last year, will bring tough defense and leadership to the field for the team. The Elis’ top faceoff winner, midfielder Dylan Levings ’14, will also be returning for Yale.
Despite graduating a powerful offense, including attackman Matt Gibson ’12 who was named the Major League Lacrosse Rookie of the Year last season, the Elis believe they will still pack a scoring punch.
“We have reloaded and have plenty of offensive talent to pick up where we left off last season,” Levings said. “However, we are still adjusting and learning how to play with a younger group of guys.”
Eight of the 10 rookies are either attackmen or midfielders, and while adjusting to playing with 10 new teammates will be a challenge for the Bulldogs, the change to the NCAA regulations this season will pose a greater difficulty. Levings said that the team will have to play with a greater sense of urgency this season, facing quicker restarts and a shot clock, though he added that the Bulldogs have been simulating the new rules in practice this season.
Changed faceoff rules will also require significant adjustment for Yale’s previously No. 3 faceoff performance, as tighter calls and harsher penalties are being assessed for repeated faceoff infractions.
With so many adjustments and a short time frame to implement them, the Bulldogs have spent a lot of time fine-tuning all areas of their game.
“We have eight days to put in our entire offensive, defensive and full field packages,” head coach Andy Shay said.
But after the next few days of practice, the Bulldogs will have the opportunity to put what they have worked on in practice to the test when they scrimmage the Division II Le Moyne Dolphins, who won three out of four national championships between 2004 and 2007 and went 17–1 last season.
The contest against Le Moyne will help supplement the Bulldogs’ practices by helping the Elis know what to spend more time on in practice.
“Le Moyne will help expose our flaws and allow us to work on those weaknesses before we play in a real game,” Shay said.
Jack Meyer ’14 said the team wants to win the ground ball battle, play good team defense and capitalize on its opportunities on the offensive end.
“As a defense we’ll focus on communicating and limiting any second-chance opportunities LeMoyne might have,” he said.
The Bulldogs will take on the Dolphins Saturday at Reese Stadium. The following week, the Elis will scrimmage Tufts, before kicking off regular season competition against St. John’s in New York on Feb. 23.