After alternating wins and losses over its last five games, the No. 14 men’s lacrosse team will look to bolster its postseason resume — and its record in the Ivy League — when it travels to Dartmouth this Saturday.
“This weekend we are going to have to execute well,” defender Michael Quinn ’16 said. “We have yet to reach our potential this season and put in a whole 60 minute performance. This weekend gives us a great opportunity to do that in a must win game for us.”
Yale (5–3, 1–2) rebounded from a highly contested 6–5 loss to Penn last weekend with a 8–5 victory against Providence thanks to the team’s five goal first quarter and a 15 save performance from goaltender Eric Natale ’15.
The Eli defense, which was much maligned before the season began, has been key to the Bulldogs’ success thus far. Yale has surrendered double digit goals in only three games and has conceded the fewest goals in the Ivy League.
Midseason All-American selection Quinn ranks eighth in the nation with 2.14 caused turnovers per game and is third on the team in groundballs. Quinn and captain Jimmy Craft ’14 anchor the unit, was dealt a significant blow when freshman Christopher Keating ’17 went down for the year with an injury. Juniors Alirio DeMeireles ’15 and David Better ’15 will have to step in to fill the void.
Second year starter Natale has been a difference maker in net, posting five games with double digit saves. The junior has the 12th best goals against average in the nation, a .812 percentage that is also good enough for best in the Ivy League.
“I think it’s our defense that’s making our offense good right now,” said midfielder Michael Bonacci ’16. “When we play up to our ability, our offense flows, is more patient and has longer possessions. This helps up control the pace of the game and gives our defense a rest.”
On offense, the Bulldogs have benefited from star attacker Brandon Mangan ’14 and Conrad Oberbeck ’15 as well as the emergence of several talented sophomores. Mangan has been held without a goal in a game just once all season and leads the team with 11 assists. Oberbeck has been a scoring machine with five hat-tricks or better through 10 games this season.
JW McGovern ’16 has stepped into a starting role on attack and has been a revelation with seven points in his last three games. The sophomore set a personal best on Tuesday with two goals and an assist against the Friars. Sophomore midfielders Michael Bonacci ’16 and Mark Glicini ’16 have also taken on bigger roles this season. Bonacci has five goals and eight assists so far and has used his quickness to greatest effect when dodging from behind the cage. Glicini has transformed into one of Yale’s best two-way midfielders. The New Jersey native has benefited from playing on the wing during faceoffs and scored immediately off restarts on a number of occasions, with five to his name to go along with nine points so far.
Highly rated face-off specialist Dylan Levings ’14 has not had the kind of season he would have liked after a terrific 2013 campaign. The senior has averaged just .547 percent on restarts this year but will have a chance to dominate Saturday’s game against Dartmouth, who have the worst face-off winning percentage in the Ivy League at just .489 percent.
The Big Green (1–5, 0–2 Ivy) have suffered in conference games this season with a — 24-goal differential in losses to No. 2 Cornell and Harvard. Dartmouth has lost three straight games and has scored more than seven goals only twice all season. The Big Green have both the fewest number of shots on offense and saves on defense in the conference.
Still, Dartmouth has conceded the second fewest turnovers in the league. Attacker Mike Olentine leads the offense with seven goals while Patrick Resch, brother of Yale defender Michael Resch ’17, leads the defensive unit with 19 ground balls and seven caused-turnovers.
However, the Ivy League has again displayed its tendency to produce upsets, with Yale and Princeton falling unexpectedly last weekend. The contest is a must-win game for the Bulldogs, as only the top four teams advance to the Ivy Tournament. The Elis are currently tied for fourth in the conference along with three other teams — but have a chance to move up the table as Brown, third in the conference, travels to No. 13 Penn.
“We are looking to execute and get back to doing what we do well,” Mangan said. “If we execute the rest will take care of itself. Most games in the league are one-goal games and every game is battle. This one will be no exception.”
The Elis face off against the Big Green at 1:00 p.m. in Hannover, N.H.