Following a last-minute win over No. 14 Princeton last weekend, the No. 11 Yale men’s lacrosse team will look to build on its momentum when it hosts No. 16 Penn tomorrow afternoon.
A win for the Bulldogs (4–2, 1–1 Ivy) would be key not only because of the short length of the Ivy season, but also because the team’s 7–6 overtime win over Penn (3–3, 0–2) last season was the reason that Yale finished second, and not fourth, in the Ivy League standings.
“This weekend is an extremely important game for us,” defenseman Michael Quinn ‘16 said. “We haven’t been in a position to have two wins in the Ivy League in the beginning half of the season in a long time. Penn is 0-2 in the league, in the same position we were in last year, and will be coming in desperate and hungry.”
Though the Quakers have dropped both of their conference games so far this season, the losses were to Princeton and No. 2 Cornell, both top-tier Ancient Eight opponents.
The Elis opened their Ivy season against the same two squads and managed to best Princeton when midfielder Mark Glicini ’16 scored with 38 seconds left to play, giving Yale the 16–15 victory.
While Penn fell to Cornell by eight last weekend, Yale was able to keep its deficit to two as the Big Red took the game 11–9 in the Elis’ Ivy opener. But regardless of what the teams’ records show, the matchup against Penn figures to be a tough one for the Bulldogs.
“It is pretty unusual for Penn to give up double digits,” attackman Brandon Mangan ‘14 said. “Penn always has a great defense and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
The Bulldogs handled the Quakers twice last season, once in the regular season and again in the playoffs en route to their 2013 Ivy Championship victory, but Yale scored fewer than double digits in both contests.
The low-scoring nature of those games can be greatly attributed to Quaker goalie Brian Feeney, who led the Ivy League with a 58.9 save percentage last season and is back again this year. Penn also led the league in defense overall, as its 7.33 goals against average was just ahead of Yale’s 7.88.
Recently, however, Penn’s defense has allowed double-digit goals to its last four opponents, including 17 goals allowed in its loss to Cornell.
Yale and Penn are both six games into their seasons, and Penn has allowed five more goals than Yale thus far.
Offensively, Penn returned its first, second and fourth leading scorers from last season. Freshman attackman Kevin Brown has also added to the offense with nine goals in the team’s first six games.
The Quakers have averaged 10.8 goals so far this season, exactly the same tally that Yale boasts at this point.
Attackmen Conrad Oberbeck ’15 and Brandon Mangan ’14 have contributed 40 percent of that scoring, with 15 and 11 goals, respectively. Their 21 points apiece also lead the team through Yale’s first six games.
“They are clearly our top scorers and producers,” attacker/midfielder Michael Bonacci ’16 said. “When they have a good game our offense plays great.”
The game may be one of Yale’s last chances to play in front a large crowd at Reese Stadium this season. The Bulldogs do not play at home again until a Tuesday game against Quinnipiac in four weeks, and their final home game against Harvard coincides with the date of Spring Fling.
All the more reason for Yale to play hard in the game tomorrow, which begins at 1 p.m.