In a fashion reminiscent of their previous four games, the men’s lacrosse team used an offensive outburst early in the second half to blow past Quinnipiac 17-8 Tuesday afternoon at the Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium.
With the win, the No. 13 Bulldogs (9-3) realized their first nine-win season since 1996.
But in the first half, the Bulldogs turned what should have been a routine victory over Quinnipiac (6-6) into an uncomfortably close contest. It took the Bulldogs 30 minutes to get it right, but when they did, they broke open a 6-6 halftime deadlock with an offensive explosion, scoring three unanswered goals in the first five minutes of the third quarter.
In their last four games, the Yale men have never ended the first half with more than a one-goal lead. Yet over the same stretch, Yale has outscored its opponents 27-9 in the second half.
“We are definitely a second-half team,” said midfielder Ned Britt ’04, who along with attackman Mike Scaglione ’03 led the Bulldogs with three goals and an assist. “I think we were concerned going into the half, but we were confident we would pull it out.”
Midfielder Marko Lujic ’02 — who also scored the game’s first goal for the Elis — started the second half scoring spree with a goal 58 seconds into the third period.
Lujic added the second goal of the period when he collected the ball and rifled a shot that bounced off Quinnipiac goalie T.J. Barnett before hitting the back of the net. Barnett stopped 10 shots over the afternoon, but Lujic’s third goal of the game gave Yale an 8-6 lead and the mental advantage they needed to pull ahead for good.
“Once we started getting a big lead, it was nice to know the game was in hand,” said captain Tucker Foote ’02, who finished with two goals. “It was easier for us to play with a cushion.”
Playing with a comfortable cushion, the Bulldogs easily could have sat back and coasted through the final 20 minutes of regulation. But with five minutes remaining in the third and Yale on the man-up, Foote collected a pass from Britt before flicking a shot that beat Barnett for a 10-6 Bulldog lead.
Overall, the Elis converted four of six man-up opportunities, a marked improvement from their Saturday night game against Harvard, in which they could not convert any of their man-up chances.
Usually, on the man-up, Yale will go from having three players on each side of the net to placing one attackman behind the net to feed. By moving away from their typical strategy in this situation, the Bulldogs consistently frustrated Quinnipiac’s penalty-killing efforts.
“You get scouted on your man-up the whole season, so by the end teams usually know what you’re going to do,” head coach Mike Waldvogel said. “We tried to change some things up and give some guys different looks, and that threw off their defense.”
Yale’s special teams received a boost Tuesday afternoon, but the Bulldogs’ performance on ground balls and faceoffs still left something to be desired. The Bulldogs — who were without defenseman Nick Krohley ’02 and midfielder Patrick Moylan ’03 — won 41 of 74 ground balls and 15 of 28 faceoffs against Quinnipiac, but Waldvogel believes his squad is capable of greater things on the ground.
“I was disappointed with our play from a fundamental viewpoint,” Waldvogel said. “We could have gotten more ground balls and faceoffs. With the guys we have out there, we should be able to execute from the beginning.”
Without Krohley and Moylan, the Elis looked unprepared for the Quinnipiac offensive onslaught that followed Yale’s early 2-0 lead. Less than 20 minutes later, the Bulldogs found themselves in a 5-3 hole.
Quinnipiac attackman Andy Pelletier capped his squad’s run when he collected a pass from attackman Mike Baglio and rocketed a shot that beat goalie Eric Wenzel ’03, who finished with 12 saves.
This year’s jockeying for position at the top of the NCAA ranks has left Yale in need of a win against No. 10 Maryland Saturday and some outside help to put them back into consideration for one of five remaining at large bids for the 12-team NCAA tournament.
On Saturday, Yale travels to Byrd Stadium, where the Terrapins are 5-1 and are in equally desperate need of a win to preserve their postseason hopes.
“We’re looking at this as a playoff game,” Waldvogel said. “Right now, we’re outside of the bubble. A win against Maryland puts us back on the bubble.”
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”19885″ ]