An inspired comeback bid by the men’s lacrosse team fell just short of giving the Elis their biggest win of the season.

Despite scoring the first four goals of the second half to tie the game 8-8, the nationally-ranked No. 19 Bulldogs (7-3, 1-2 Ivy) could not overcome No. 7 University of Massachusetts (9-1), falling to the Minutemen 12-10 at Garber Field in Amherst, Mass.

“We played really hard, but we just made one too many mistakes, and that’s what it came down to,” said captain Mike Scaglione ’03, who led the Elis with four goals. “We needed a break, and we didn’t get one.”

Scaglione now has 90 career goals, good for seventh all-time in Yale history.

The Bulldogs nearly unseated the Minutemen, who have had a strong season with victories over No. 15 Navy and No. 17 UMBC.

“We missed a couple on the doorstep throughout the game, but we were pretty evenly matched throughout the game,” said middie Ned Britt ’04, who contributed two goals and two assists. “They just had a couple lucky breaks.”

Leaving halftime trailing 8-4, the Elis made things interesting with a four-goal run to tie the game. Scott Kenworthy ’04 tallied two during the third period, while Scaglione and Britt each contributed to bring Yale even at 8-8.

“We’ve been able to do that all year,” said Scaglione of Yale’s rebound. “It’s not a good thing that we get ourselves into a hole, but we get really tough and fight our way out of it, which shows our character and shows our heart.”

But with 44 seconds left in the third, Jeff Zywicki beat Roy Skeen ’04 and added an insurance goal 35 seconds into the fourth quarter. Skeen finished with eight saves.

“As soon as we tied it up 8-8, it seemed as if we were going to get a lead,” defenseman Noah Glass ’03 said. “We were really up, but they scored pretty soon after that, and that took some wind out of our sails.”

The Elis were hurt mostly in transition by the Minutemen, whose quick goalie-to-middie passing moved the ball fast and caught Eli players on the field before they could substitute to their defensive groups.

“We played really well defensively, but we had a little trouble in transition; they’re very good, so they capitalized on any fast break opportunity,” Britt said. “One-on-one, we played them really well and limited some of their big guns.”

Twice more, the Elis were able to narrow the lead to one, but Massachusetts responded each time. Scaglione’s goal to bring the score to 10-9 was answered, and Kevin Glenz responded to Britt’s final tally midway through the fourth quarter. Helped by several Yale penalties in the closing minutes, Massachusetts maintained possession of the ball and stalled for nearly five minutes.

“I wish we could have had a few more minutes,” said Scaglione. “We stayed intense, and we just needed another big play.”

In the first half, the Minutemen jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with quick goals by Kevin Leveille and Neil Lundberg in the first two minutes.

“He has a great sense of the game,” Glass said of Leveille, who finished with two goals and two assists. “He was great at executing and was able to capitalize early in the game.”

The remainder of the first quarter was quiet, but the final thirty seconds saw three goals by the two teams. With 27 seconds remaining in the frame, Lundberg scored his second goal of the game to give the Minutemen a 3-0 lead, but the Elis fought back with rapid goals in succession from attackmen Dan Brillman ’06 and Seth Goldberg ’05 to cut the lead to one.

Scaglione tied the game with 10:03 remaining in the second, but Massachusetts proceeded with a 4-0 spurt for a 7-3 lead before Scaglione tallied again with 42 seconds remaining in the half.

As they did against Albany, the Elis gave up a last-second goal to the Minutemen, who converted with two ticks left on the clock to bring their lead back to four goals entering the half.

“Aside from the Penn State game, this the most complete effort we’ve had,” Glass said. “They were able to hold on the way we were in the PSU game in the very end, but it was a really good effort.”

Yale beat Penn State 17-15 in Florida during spring break.

The Bulldogs return to Yale for their final home game Wednesday against Dartmouth and hope to win out their season to finish with an 11-3 record.

“UMass is seventh in the country right now, and they’ve been able to play with everyone they played against,” Scaglione said. “That shows us that we can play with anyone in the country if we play hard and play tough.”