Around the league:
It is starting to feel like spring in New Haven just as lacrosse season is winding down in the Ivy League. While the Elis face their biggest rival, Harvard, at home, there are a few other important games to watch around the Ivy League this weekend.
Princeton, Cornell and Penn are the top three teams in the Ancient Eight. Yale has experienced defeat at the hands of all these teams.
The big game to watch this weekend is the Princeton-Cornell battle. No. 6 Princeton, which normally dominates the conference, is undefeated in league play thus far. This game pits the league’s best offensive team, No. 5 Cornell, against one of the nation’s best defensive teams, Princeton. A win for Princeton this Saturday would guarantee the Tigers a bid to the NCAA tournament. Cornell has blown through the Ivy League, dominating Yale, Harvard and Dartmouth, only falling to then-No. 11 Penn. Princeton and Cornell have dominated Ivy League lacrosse over the past 50 years. Cornell won the championship in 2005 and shared the title with Princeton in 2003 and 2004.
These two are the favorites for the 2006 Ivy title. Princeton still has two league away games against Dartmouth and Brown. The Big Red still need to face Brown to wrap up its league season.
The other game to watch this weekend is the Dartmouth-Brown game in Rhode Island. Yale dominated the Bears and it seems likely that Dartmouth will easily snatch this victory. Dartmouth is coming off a strong midweek win victory over Yale. The Big Green controlled possession by dominating the ground balls and outshot the Elis, 41-33. Penn is not playing this weekend and has already faced all the Ivy teams, finishing with a 4-2 league record.
Keys to the game:
1.) Patience, patience, patience
Wednesday against Dartmouth, the Elis kept falling behind and somehow rallying back to tie the score. That is, until the end of the game, when they kept forcing shots that all missed the net. But the team has been successful when it refrains from firing useless shots. The Bulldogs have to take their time setting up plays in order to get good looks at the net. If they don’t stay calm, they will force the defense to do much more of the work in stopping the Cantabs.
2.) Finish the shots
As important as it is to pass the ball around on attack and let Tyler Casertano ’08 do his job in setting up scoring chances, the Elis have to find a way to hit the back of the net. Harvard goalies Evan O’Donnell and Joe Pike are both talented at stopping opponents’ attempts, but they are in no way invincible. The attack has to put some speed on their shots and send them home.
3.) Grab those ground balls
It won’t be a game of keep away, but it couldn’t hurt to have a little bit of that mentality. If the Bulldogs can win the war of possession, the Harvard defense will wear itself out and give the Elis even more chances to score. To do that, the Bulldogs have to chase every loose ball with 150 percent effort, whether it be after a missed Yale shot or after an Eli long pole knocks the ball loose out of a Crimson attackman’s stick.
4.) Shut down the duo of C’s
The Cantabs do not have a particularly potent attack, averaging only 8.11 goals per game, but that does not mean the Eli defense should take leading Crimson attackmen Evan Calvert and Greg Cohen lightly. Calvert and Cohen both average 1.78 goals per game, while Calvert also contributes 1.11 assists on average. If the Yale long sticks can contain these two Cantabs, goalie George Carafides ’08 should be fine.
5.) Come roaring out of the gates
The past few weeks have been a little rough for the Bulldogs. They have struggled in the Ivy League and should be more than ready to grab another conference victory. If they can use that frustration to fuel their intensity, Harvard could be in for an early beating. On top of that, the Elis have fared substantially better against teams when they have had early leads to defend instead of catchup work to do. The Bulldogs have to remember this and put points on the board early.
6.) Dominate in the faceoff circle
When a team has one of the top faceoff men in the NCAA, it might be easy to take him and his performance for granted. But that does not mean that the Bulldogs do take Dan Kallaugher ’06 for granted, nor that he can let up at all tomorrow. Kallaugher has to do everything he can in the middle of the field to win faceoffs and scoop up the subsequent ground balls if the Elis are going to win.