After a well-rounded opening win against St. John’s, the No. 12 men’s lacrosse team hits the road this weekend looking to pick up a win in the team’s first of three trips to Rhode Island this season. On Saturday, the Bulldogs (1–0, 0–0 Ivy) will face off against Bryant (2–1, 0–0 NEC), which is on a two game winning streak.
“I think we came together as one unit against St. John’s and if we continue to play as a team like that we will be a hard team to beat,” Brandon Mangan ’14 said.
Last Saturday, the Elis used shutdown defense and balanced scoring to top the then-No. 19 Red Storm. Defenseman Michael Quinn ’16 and captain Jimmy Craft ’14 each had three controlled takeaways, holding the third-ranked attack unit in the nation to just six goals on 29 shots. Freshman Christopher Keating ’17, who had two controlled takeaways, rounded out the new look defensive unit for the Bulldogs. Goaltender Eric Natale ’15 made 10 saves on the afternoon, while face-off specialist Dylan Levings ’14 was named to the Ivy League honor role after winning 13 of 19 restarts and assisting on Yale’s first goal of 2014.
“I think we all knew how we’d be capable of playing if we brought energy and focus,” Quinn said. “I think that it was mostly people outside of Yale who learned about the ability of our team this year.”
The game against St. John’s was tied at the beginning of the second quarter, but Yale scored six of the next eight goals, leading the team to a 10–6 win. The Bulldogs had eight different goal scorers, including two each from attackman Brandon Mangan ’14 and midfielder Michael Bonacci ’16. Yale’s midfield unit, which lost only one player from last season, posted four goals and eight points on the afternoon. The Elis got points from two of their three leading freshman. Starting attackman Jeff Cimbalista ’17 scored the first goal of Yale’s season five minutes into the game, while midfielder Eric Scott ’17 found the back of the net halfway through the third quarter.
The Bulldogs will want to work on turnovers and groundballs heading into Saturday. The Elis lost both battles to St. John’s.
“I think last weekend we came out a bit slow and played a bit sloppy at times, but part of that may have been the first game jitters,” Bonacci said. “Overall, I think it’s just important for us to play tough, communicate on all parts of the field and control what we can control.”
Yale’s opponent this Saturday, the Bryant Bulldogs, has found goals from all over the field with 10 different players contributing to the team total of 23 on the season. Bryant has three different players with four goals, and a long-stick-midfielder with two tallies.
Two weeks ago, Bryant pulled a 12–9 upset of then-nationally ranked Bucknell and never trailed in last week’s 7–5 victory against Fairfield. Goaltender Gunnar Waldt has posted a 67.2 percent save rate with a stunning 44 saves through three games. Face-off specialist Kevin Massa has won a respectable 50 percent of restarts this season, taking all 55 face offs for the Bulldogs.
“Bryant has a great team and an even better goalie and face-off man,” Bonacci said. “Our coach said this is the day we have to have the best shooting percentage we can have. This goalie is not going to give up easy goals and with a very physical and talented defense we are going to have to work hard to get high-percentage shots.”
Yale leads the all-time record 2–1, having also won the teams’ last matchup 11–10 in double overtime back in 2012.
The Elis will make three trips to the Ocean State in 2014, facing Bryant, Providence and Brown.
Yale plays Bryant this Saturday at 1 p.m. in Smithfield.