The men’s lacrosse graduating class of 2004 has seen quite a few tough breaks in their four years, and Saturday’s 11-10 last-second loss to Harvard was no exception for the senior-night honorees.
With 30 seconds to go, Yale lost possession on its final charge for a tie-breaking goal. Harvard promptly called time-out with a little more than 20 seconds on the clock to set up the goal that would give the Bulldogs their fourth one-goal loss in six games.
Though the Elis have recovered mightily from a third quarter deficit with a rash of goals in the fourth during this six-game stretch, they have chalked up only one “W.” The Bulldogs claimed a 9-8 victory by the skin of their teeth in a double-overtime, sudden-death triumph over the University of Massachusetts April 17.
“We have battled in every game for all 60 minutes, and have suffered some tough losses,” midfielder Ned Britt ’04 said. “It is pretty characteristic of [the seniors’] four years here.”
Indeed the ’04 Elis are no stranger to close games, both on the winning and the losing end. In 2002, just days after claiming a 15-13 win at Princeton, effectively ending the Tigers’ 37-game Ivy-winning streak, the Bulldogs dropped a 9-8 home match-up against Brown. Although Yale rebounded to finish with a 9-4 overall record (4-2 Ivy), the loss dashed hopes for an Ivy League title.
“[The Princeton win] was kind of a hollow victory since we didn’t go to the NCAA tournament [on an automatic bid],” goalkeeper Roy Skeen ’04 said.
But a key difference between this year’s close losses and those of former seasons is the fact that Bulldogs have felt well-prepared for every contest.
“In the past, we have been trampled by top teams because we did not have a proven system on which we could rely,” midfielder Marc Perry ’04 said. “This year, we have a great system and a great game plan for every single team that we play and as a result, we have played competitively with every team on our schedule.”
The Bulldogs’ hardships have not been confined to the field, as their senior members have seen their head coach change thrice. On Wednesday’s game against Fairfield, all three will be on the sidelines. Mike Waldvogel, who led the Bulldogs from 1980-2002, is now an assistant at Fairfield. Former assistant and 2003 interim head coach Darryl Delia also serves as an associate head coach for the Stags.
“Fairfield will be an especially emotional game. [Fairfield’s] coaching staff knows everything about us both personally and athletically,” Britt said. “We all want to prove to our former coaches how well we can play.”
In a ceremony at the tailgate following the Harvard game, Bulldog volunteer coach and former All-American goalie Eric Wenzel ’04 spoke briefly about each of the seniors before presenting the outgoing Elis with framed jerseys.
Despite the fact that past successes, like the 2002 Princeton win, have not become the norm, the Eli seniors have brought the intensity of the program to new heights.
“The good moments are when we come off of the field after practice, all at an equal point of exhaustion, still fighting and believing in what we’re trying to do,” Skeen said. “It’s all in the details.”
The class of 2004 consists of midfielders Britt, Perry, Greg Naso, Van Sternberg, Ryan Capilupi, Skeen; defenders Todd Montgomery and Tyler Old; and attacker Scott Kenworthy.
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