The No. 14 men’s lacrosse team bounced back from last weekend’s loss with an 8–5 victory over Providence thanks to a scintillating performance from goalkeeper Eric Natale ’15 in net. The second-year starter had a career high 15 stops in the game, including five in the first quarter alone.
“Eric played great tonight, making every save that he had to and more,” captain Jimmy Craft ’14 said. “The defense knew that he was seeing the ball extremely well, so we just felt very confident with the shots we were giving up. It was probably the best I have seen him play.”
Natale made double-digit saves for the third straight game and fifth time this season. The junior has the lowest goals-against average in the Ivy League.
The Bulldogs (5–3, 1–2 Ivy) came away with the win on the back of Natale’s performance, as well as five goals in the first quarter. Yale wasted no time in opening the scoring against Providence (3–8, 0–2 Big East) as midfielder Mark Glicini ’16 found the back of the net just seven seconds into the game. Glicini picked up the ground ball after specialist Dylan Levings’ ’14 face-off win and raced into Yale’s offensive zone before unleashing a shot.
Shortly after, the Bulldogs added three more goals in under three minutes. Attackman J.W. McGovern ’16 scored a goal that was sandwiched in between two tallies from fellow attackman Conrad Oberbeck ’15. McGovern, who has started two straight games after being Yale’s fourth attackman for most of the season, extended Yale’s lead to 5–0 with less than five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
“The way J.W. has played recently is really impressive,” attackman Brandon Mangan ’14 said. “As Conrad, J.W. and I continue to play together, the chemistry will build and we will only get better.”
The Friars finally found a way past Natale with two minutes remaining in the first quarter. Providence had not won on its home field all season, but threatened to come back versus the nationally ranked Bulldogs.
The home team dominated the second quarter, scoring twice on 10 shots and forcing the Elis into six turnovers. Natale made a further two saves before the end of the half, while Yale’s offense could only muster four shots after its offensive explosion in the first period.
“Providence just continued to come at us,” Glicini said. “From competing for every ground ball at the face-off to finding ways to put some in net, they kept the pressure on us. I give them credit, but I’m also glad we found a way to come out on top.”
The third quarter saw good defense and only one goal. The Bulldogs broke the Friars’ run of three unanswered goals run after a great assist from midfielder Michael Bonacci ’16. The sophomore speedster lost his defender behind the cage with some nifty moves and drew a slide as he headed for the front of the cage, where he spotted Oberbeck all alone on the crease. Oberbeck collected the pass and scored for his fifth hat trick of the year and team-leading 20th goal.
Natale continued closing the door on the Friars, making four more stops, including a sensational save while two men down with three minutes left in the quarter.
Despite Yale’s three-goal lead going into the fourth, the game still hung in the balance with sloppy passing leading to multiple chance for both teams. Providence pressed with the start of the final 15 and cut the Elis’ lead to one just four and a half minutes into the quarter.
The goal seemed to awaken the Elis, who had scored once in a 40-minute period that encompassed parts of all four quarters. Midfielder Shane Thornton ’15 responded for the Bulldogs, ripping a shot into the roof of the Friars net. Tewaaraton watch list nominee Mangan gave Yale a four-goal cushion with under nine minutes to go. Yale’s leading attackman had just missed on the fast break a moment before, but got the ball back and scored after faking a shot, cutting inside and beating the Friars’ goaltender.
Providence got one back with just under five minutes to go and still threatened. Natale made a huge save shortly after, stoning Providence’s leading scorer Andrew Barton right in front after the Friars’ forced a Yale turnover and quickly transitioned for an odd-man advantage.
However, the Bulldogs drew a penalty with two minutes remaining to effectively ice the game.
“Midweek games are always really tough, and it is a great sign that we were able to stick together and pull out a win,” Mangan said.
Along with Natale, Alirio DeMeireles ’15 was also crucial in the Bulldog’s own end throughout the night. The Junior defenseman made his first career start, filling in for the injured Michael Quinn ’16. DeMeireles had the unenviable task of covering Friars’ leading scorer Andrew Barton. The Senior attackman had put up 34 points through 10 games, but was held to just three shots and one goal thanks to the Bulldog defenseman’s fine play. He finished with two controlled takeaways and two ground balls.
“I thought it was a hard-fought win, our defense stayed focused and played one possession at a time,” Craft said. “It would have been great to have put them away early after a five or 4–0 lead but it’s good to come out with a win.”
The Elis return to conference play this weekend away at Dartmouth. Face-off is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. in Hanover, N.H.