On a rainy Saturday at Reese Stadium, the No. 11 men’s lacrosse team fell to Ivy League foes Penn 6–5 after a defensive struggle that produced season low scoring for both teams.
Yale (4–3, 1–2 Ivy) was held below six goals for only the second time in five years. The Quakers (4–3, 1–2 Ivy), who scored four unanswered goals in the second half, won the statistical majority of the groundball, turnover and faceoff battles while also besting the Elis in shots and saves.
“We knew going into the game Penn was going to have a good defensive showing,” attackman Brandon Mangan ’14 said. “We had far too many turnovers, and Penn’s great goalie play translated into a poor showing for us.”
Yale opened the scoring just over five minutes into the contest after midfielder Eric Scott ’17 beat his defender with a quick alley dodge and buried his shot in the bottom left corner of the goal. However, the teams traded goals until 11 seconds before halftime when attackman Conrad Oberbeck ’15 scored his team leading 17th goal of the season to give the Bulldogs a 3–2 lead going into halftime. Oberbeck hit the back of the net after a nice feed from Mangan found his teammate cutting from behind the cage.
The second half started brightly for the Elis after Mangan increased Yale’s lead to two goals just over six minutes into the half. The Quakers, however, would take control of the game after that. Penn attackmen scored two goals in 24 seconds to tie the game at 4–4 in the third quarter. Isaac Bock evened the game, scoring low after nice transition play by the Quakers to break up field after a Yale turnover.
Penn continued its scoring run in the fourth quarter, adding another two unanswered goals. The game-winning goal came with just over three minutes left in the final period. After sloppy play resulted in Yale failing to clear the ball, the Quakers had an odd-man advantage and scored to give themselves a two-goal lead late in the game.
“Penn got more groundballs and pushed the ball in transition every chance they got,” midfielder Michael Keasey ’16 said. “They scored three unsettled goals. We knew that was a huge part of their offensive scoring, and we did not do a good enough job stopping that or executing our own game plan.”
Oberbeck scored with just 1:16 remaining on the clock, sending the fans at Reese Stadium into a frenzy hoping for a late comeback. The Bulldogs got their chance, intercepting a pass in their defensive end to give their offense a shot to tie the game. With less than 20 seconds remaining, Oberbeck curled around the left side of the cage and released a shot that Penn goaltender Brian Feeney saved low to condemn the Elis to defeat.
Feeney made a number of crucial stops throughout the game, totaling 13 saves on the afternoon. The netminder has the third most saves as well as the third best save percentage in the Ivy League.
The Bulldogs struggled to get much going on offense, totaling a season low 32 shots. In addition, despite being ranked second lowest in the conference, the Elis committed a season high of 23 turnovers. This recipe for disaster was made even more sour by the fact that Yale also lost the groundball battle by a large margin 32–26 and have the second fewest GBs in the Ivy League.
“I thought that we played with a lot of grit and heart on Saturday, but unfortunately we did not play smart,” captain Jimmy Craft ’14 said. “Collectively, as a team we have to become smarter; we made some uncharacteristically unintelligent plays, and we have to make sure that we get better in that department.”
The loss most likely leaves the Bulldogs out of contention for an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament, meaning the Elis will have to win their remaining three Ivy games as well as the conference tournament if they hope to return to the Division 1 championships for the third straight year.
The Bulldogs have responded well to losses this season, plastering then-nationally ranked Lehigh 10–2 and pulling out a close 16–15 victory against Ivy power No. 15 Princeton after their two previous defeats.
“We really need to cut down on turnovers and clear the ball better,” Mangan said. “We are not even thinking about the at-large bid. The only thing that matters is Providence on Tuesday. We are just trying to get back on track with a hard fought win.”
Yale travels to Rhode Island this Tuesday for a 7 p.m. night game against Providence.