The men’s lacrosse team opened its season with a disappointing 10–9 defeat against St. John’s on Feb. 23, but the Bulldogs rebounded on the road to shut down one of the most untraditional and powerful offenses in the country and take home a 15–8 win at the University of Albany on Saturday.
The Bulldogs (1–1, 0–0 Ivy) made their second road trip of the season to Albany, N.Y. on Saturday to face a unique offense that beat interstate rival, the No. 18 Syracuse Orange in double overtime on Feb. 17. After mimicking in practice the unusual offensive formation that helped the Great Danes light up the Syracuse defense and fixing some errors with communication and finishing shots, the Elis were able to defeat No. 20 Albany (1–2, 0–0 American East) in another non-conference contest.
“We had a great week of practice leading up to Albany and one thing that Coach [Andy Shay] focused on was just getting better as a team,” captain and defender Mike McCormack ’13 said. “It was a great team effort against Albany from both an emotional and physical standpoint.”
Although the majority of the Elis returning from last year are part of the core defensive unit, the freshman-heavy Yale offense mounted an impressive attack on the Albany defense on Saturday.
“Our offense really clicked on Saturday and it was nice to see that we were able to put up a good amount of goals,” McCormack said. “Brandon Mangan ’14 and Conrad Oberbeck ’15 both had great individual days and some younger guys were able to step up and contribute.”
On the defensive side of the game, the Bulldogs shut down an offense that netted a colossal 20 goals in its previous game, limiting the Great Danes to less than half of what theyscored against Syracuse.
Attackman Conrad Oberbeck ’15 led the team in scoring with six goals followed by Brandon Mangan ’14 with four, and Ryan McCarthy ’14 led the Elis with two assists. The Bulldogs moved the ball effectively and six different players scored against Albany. Shay also said his team was opportunistic and finished its shots when it had open opportunities. The Elis were able to score on half of their man-up opportunities, going two-for-four while the Great Danes went one-for-four.
The Bulldogs picked up 39 of 63 ground balls while the Great Danes only managed 24. The Bulldogs also dominated at the face off X, with Dylan Levings ’14 winning 15 of his 24 draws. Levings also won a team-leading 10 ground balls.
The strong defensive play stemmed from face-offs and ground balls won, but it did not stop there. Defensive play was powerful from midfield all the way to the crease. Goaltender Eric Natale ’15 made 12 saves against Albany, many from within five yards of the goal.
The Great Danes opened the scoring two minutes into the first quarter when Lyle Thompson beat Natale for an unassisted goal. The Thompson trio of Lyle along with his brother Miles Thompson and cousin Ty Thompson totaled 18 points between them in Albany’s double overtime win over the Orange two weeks ago. Lyle tallied a second goal in the first period, but Yale emerged from the frame with a 3–2 lead after scoring twice in the final 1:09. Though Lyle picked up four assists over the remaining three quarters, he and Ty Thompson were held to only four goals between them by Yale’s veteran long poles.
Mangan and Oberbeck each found the net to start the second quarter and the Bulldogs stretched their lead to 8–4 before halftime with a 3–0 run over the last four minutes of the half.
Although Lyle found Ty Thompson for a man-up goal to pull the Great Danes within three less than two minutes into the third quarter, Yale scored three more times in the period to take an 11–5 advantage into the final frame.
“All we did and all we are doing is just constantly trying to get better, every practice and every game,” attackman Kirby Zdrill ’13 said.
The Bulldogs will next face-off against Sacred Heart on Tuesday, March 5 in Fairfield, Conn., at 7 p.m. for their third straight away appearance before finally heading back to Reese Stadium to take on Fairfield on Saturday March 9.