After playing its season opener in subfreezing temperatures on a field surrounded by snowbanks, the men’s lacrosse team will get a nice change of scenery for its second contest next week.
On their annual spring break trip to Florida, the nationally ranked No. 16 Bulldogs (1-0) will play No. 13 Penn State (1-1) at the St. Andrews School in Boca Raton March 11. During the break the Elis will also be home to face Quinnipiac March 16 and No. 14 Cornell March 22.
Having only played one regular season game, the Bulldogs will face a good early season test against the Nittany Lions, who are 1-1 after a loss to Notre Dame and a win over Fairfield.
“As our coaches have been saying, a win over Penn State can move us four spots in the rankings and help to ensure a spot in the tournament,” defenseman Noah Glass ’03 said. “This will be our first test against a team ranked higher than us in the preseason polls.”
The Bulldogs withstood an early game slump to defeat Drexel last weekend, fueled by hat tricks from captain Mike Scaglione ’03, Ryan Floyd ’03 and Ned Britt ’04. After a quick 3-0 lead, the Bulldogs spotted the Dragons four unanswered goals before coming back to win 11-7.
But next week the opposition will be tougher. The Nittany Lions boast three preseason All-Americans: captain Matt Zappia, long-stick middie Rob Bateman, and captain goaltender Chris Garrity.
“Penn State is much more athletic and skilled than Drexel,” attackman Scott Kenworthy ’04 said. “We need to work hard on both sides of the field and really be patient.”
Last weekend, the Bulldogs proved they could score as long as they maintained possession; their breakdowns occurred largely on clears and in transition play. In addition, 12 penalties cost Yale nearly 10 minutes of man-down play.
“We had to control the ball,” Kenworthy said. “We knew that if we took care of the ball and played aggressively that they couldn’t stop us.”
On the other side of the field, the Elis benefit from a defense that for the most part has been together for two years.
“This is the best defensive unit I have played with during my time at Yale,” Glass said. “Brad Liff ’03 and I have been starting at close defense since we were freshmen, and Todd Montgomery ’04 has been starting since his freshman year. We are at a considerable advantage.”
A high face-off percentage for rookie Dan Kallaugher ’06 combined with midfield speed from D.J. Barry ’05 and Greg Naso ’04 will help ensure that the Bulldogs possess the ball against the Lions, which will be crucial against players such as Bateman.
The Penn State midfielder, who scooped up 98 groundballs last season, earned the Inside Lacrosse Hoover Award, the school’s Groundball award, and Honorable Mention All-American status, for his efforts.
The already closeknit Elis hope to become even more team-oriented during their trip to Florida, which will give them a good deal of practice to ready them for a season tightly packed with games as soon as they return.
“When we perfectly execute our team offense and team defense, we can beat any team in the country,” Glass said. “The Florida trip will help us to solidify our cohesiveness as a team and rely less on individual play.”