Starting the season with three road games is a challenge for any team, but the Yale men’s lacrosse team did so successfully, carrying the momentum from its 2–1 record on the road back to Reese Stadium to open up home competition on Mar. 9 against Fairfield and Ivy League competition on Mar. 16 against No. 2 Cornell. The Elis (3–3, 0–2 Ivy) topped the Stags, 12–8, but fell to both the Big Red and the No. 11 Princeton Tigers a week later and now have a steep road to climb in search of an Ivy League title.
The Bulldogs fell behind early against Fairfield and trailed 3–1 after the first quarter, but attackman Kirby Zdrill ’13 scored twice in the second quarter and the Elis took a 6–5 lead into the break. The teams traded goals for most of the second half, but Yale rattled off three straight scores to close the game and come away with the four-point victory.
Despite a strong start and 3–2 lead following the first quarter against Cornell, a scoreless third quarter allowed the Big Red to rebound and left the Elis on the wrong side of a 12–10 decision at the sound of the final buzzer.
The matchup against Princeton (5–2, 1–1 Ivy) last Friday was even closer, but again the Elis fell just short. Both teams tallied a pair of goals in each of the first two quarters, but the Tigers pulled ahead with a four-goal third quarter and stretched their lead to 10–7 with under nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Attacker Conrad Oberbeck ’15 responded for the Elis with a goal and midfielder Harry Kucharczyk ’15 pulled Yale within one with 5:18 left in the game, but that was as close as it would get.
The Bulldogs dominated at the face-off X against Cornell as midfielder Dylan Levings ’14 won 10 of 12 face-offs in the third quarter, helping the Elis to take 22 of the 25 face-offs during the match. Levings is currently first in the Ivy League with a .624 winning percentage.
“We’re trying to get better for next weekend doing the little things right [in practice],” Levings said.
The Bulldogs were able to find success with the details in the past several games.
Along with face-offs, the Bulldogs beat both Cornell and Fairfield in total ground balls and collected just one ground ball fewer than the Tigers.
“All week we just focused on process, trying to get all the details right,” Zdrill said. “That’s a big part of our team goal of consistently trying to get better.”
Zdrill and Oberbeck contributed goals in key situations for the Elis, and a lot of them.
Zdrill scored Yale’s first three goals against Fairfield, half of the goals Yale was able to put away in the first half against the Stags. He put away a fourth late in the game when Fairfield had narrowed Yale’s lead to one to push the Bulldogs ahead by two at 9–7.
Against the Big Red, Oberbeck put away a team-high three goals for the hat trick.
Both Zdrill and Oberbeck along with midfielder Harry Kucharczyk ’15 and attackman Brandon Mangan ’14 put away two goals against the Tigers.
While the Elis were only able to captitalize on one man-up opportunity in each conference game, they were also able to hold their opponents to one man-up goal against both the Tigers and the Big Red.
While the Bulldogs have had a slow start in league competition this season, leaving them with a 0–2 start in Ivy League play, the Elis were in a similar situation last season and went on to win the Ivy League championship. The Elis are looking for their first conference win next weekend on Mar. 30 at 1 p.m. when they take on the No. 9 Penn Quakers in Philadelphia.