MEN’S LACROSSE: Yale tops Wolverines

The No. 11 men’s lacrosse team was unfazed playing in the largest college stadium in the United States, as the Bulldogs rolled over Michigan in the Big House for their fourth straight win.

Yale’s attackmen led the charge offensively with 18 points, including six goals from Conrad Oberbeck ’15, four from Jeff Cimbalista ’16 and five assists from Brandon Mangan ’14. The Bulldogs (8–4, 3–2 Ivy) won by a score of 13–7 after four goals in the third quarter ensured the Wolverines (4–10, 1–3 ECAC) lost their sixth straight game.

“We were definitely pleased with the performance we put forward this weekend,” defenseman Michael Quinn ’16 said. “Offensively we did a great job of sharing the ball and [goaltender Eric Natale ’15] was a stalwart in cage for us. All around it was a satisfying effort. We can’t spend too much time thinking about it though, as we have Quinnipiac on Tuesday night and a big home game versus Harvard on Saturday afternoon that has big Ivy playoff implications.”

On Saturday afternoon three Elis had career days, with Oberbeck, Cimbalista and Natale setting personal bests. Oberbeck notched two assists along with his six goals for eight points, while Cimbalista doubled his season total goal-haul from four to eight. In net, Natale, who has posted eight double-digit save games this season, stopped a career-high 14 shots. The junior has the best goals against average and save percentage in the Ivy League.

Oberbeck opened the scoring on a man-advantage with three minutes left in the opening quarter. The Bulldog’s man-up unit has been on fire in the last four games, connecting on 10 of 18 opportunities. Mangan cited patience and better shot selection for the Elis’s uptick in conversions in the latter half of the season.

Yale scored off the ensuing face-off to double its advantage after all three of the Elis’ Tewaaraton Award Watch list nominees touched the ball. Face-off specialist Dylan Levings ’14 controlled the draw and picked up the ground ball, giving it straight back to the Bulldog’s offense. Oberbeck found the rock and dished it to Mangan, who broke the back of the net for Yale’s second tally inside 15 seconds. Natale helped keep Michigan at bay in the first quarter with four saves and let the Elis head into the break up 2–0.

The second quarter featured more open play from both teams. Yale broke through just 13 seconds into the period, with Levings winning the face-off, and then Mangan finding Cimbalista for his first goal of the day. Levings, who controlled 15 of 23 restarts, has taken over the second half of the season and ranks second in the Ivy League with a .588 winning percentage.

Michigan got on the board three minutes later, but Yale rattled off three straight goals to expand the lead to 6–1. The Bulldogs had 13 shots in the quarter, but the Wolverines climbed back into the game with two goals before the halftime whistle. Michigan attackman Ian King scored his 27th goal of the season in the frame, breaking a program record set back in 2012.

The third quarter was the backbreaker for Michigan. Oberbeck had a hat trick within seven minutes, while Natale had five saves and Levings went 4-for-6 from the face-off dot. At the end of 45 minutes of lacrosse, Yale led 10–4 and the Wolverines seemed to have no answer to the Bulldogs’s sparkling offense or stifling defense.

“It was definitely nice to put up a lot of early goals in this game,” midfielder Colin Flaherty ’15 said. “As an offense, we focused on keeping out foot on the pedal to ensure there was no comeback.”

The two teams traded goals in the final quarter, with each side scoring thrice. Flaherty scored for the third straight game, while Cimbalista had his fourth goal of the game. Attackman J.W. McGovern ’16 finished the scoring at 13 with 1:33 remaining shortly after Michigan tallied its final goal on one of the team’s 17 shots in the quarter.

“It was awesome that a lot of guys were able to get quality playing time in an environment like that,” Mangan said. “On offense, we started to play a little more free and lose and when that happens Jeff [Cimbalista] gels really well with me and Conrad.”

The Bulldogs round out their non-conference schedule this Tuesday against local rival Quinnipiac before ending the season with a crucial matchup with conference leader Harvard next Saturday. While Yale clinched a berth in the Ivy League tournament, a win on home turf against the Crimson could vault the Elis into second place.

Should No. 12 Cornell lose to No. 14 Princeton Saturday afternoon, there could be a four-way tie for the Ivy League regular season title with the Big Red, Crimson, No. 10 Quakers and the Bulldogs locked at 4-2 in the conference. However, this scenario would still not see Yale host the league tournament.

“Every game is extremely important and we are not worried about Harvard right now,” Mangan said. “Quinnipiac comes first.”

The Bulldogs take on the Bobcats at Reese Stadium this Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.

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