An explosive offense in a penalty-ridden and freezing cold game propelled the men’s lacrosse team to its first victory of the 2007 season on Saturday.

The Bulldogs (1-0) fought their way to a solid 13-7 win against Holy Cross (1-1) on Saturday at Hart Turf Field despite the icy weather. Temperatures in the twenties and bitingly cold wind gave the Elis more to think about than just the game they were playing, team captain Christopher Kempner ’07 said.

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“It was absolutely freezing, arctic-cold conditions,” he said. “But once we got out there and got the adrenaline pumping, [we] really didn’t notice anymore.”

Early on, the advantage proceeded to ping-pong back and forth, with neither side holding an edge for very long. In the first period, the Bulldogs dominated offensive play, taking nine shots compared to the Crusaders’ two. Four of those attempts made it past the Holy Cross goaltender, including one by attacker Tyler Casertano ’08 who notched the point despite being slashed by a defender as he shot.

The Elis did not let the extra-attacker opportunity go to waste. Casertano sent a pass, 42 seconds later, to attackman Kempner, who deposited the ball neatly into the net.

But in period two, the Crusaders fought back, scoring four goals of their own and holding the Elis to a single point, scored by rookie midfielder Jerome Arnold ’10 after a fast break. And although the halftime whistle blew with the Bulldogs holding on by a slim 5-4 lead, 28 seconds into the third period saw the Crusaders take advantage of a man-up opportunity and tie the game at 5-5.

“We made a lot of mistakes in the second,” Casertano said. “They were mostly logistical things — people being in the wrong places, that sort of thing. I think first-game jitters got to us. But we were able to turn it around in the third and get those jitters out.”

But what had been a tight game broke open soon after, when Kempner snagged two consecutive unassisted goals. That gave the Elis momentum they did not relinquish for the rest of the game. They went on to score another four points in the third period alone, leaving the Crusaders trailing 11-5 as the period drew to a close. And though the fourth period saw both teams score two points each, Holy Cross could not catch up with the Bulldog offense.

“It always feels great to start the season with a win,” Kempner said. “And whenever we put up 13 goals, you know all of us are playing well.”

Although the match was rife with penalties, man-up opportunities did not make a large impact on the scoring, as Yale and Holy Cross went one-for-four and two-for-eight, respectively. What really made a difference was the vast advantage in shots on goal — the Elis took 42 and the Crusaders just 27 — and the Bulldogs’ 19 wins in 23 face-offs certainly did not hurt.

Kempner and Casertano start their season with six points each after Kempner scored four goals and assisted on two more, while Casertano split his points three and three. Kyle Washabaugh ’08 notched two goals of his own, and four other Elis also contributed to the team’s scoring.

But as great as it is to win, Kempner said, it is still too early to let a victory color the team’s perception of the season to come, especially with a difficult game on the horizon this weekend.

“This is the first time in my three years with the team we’ve started off with a win, which is nice,” Casertano said. “But at the same time, we have a huge task ahead of us going into the weekend against UMass. We definitely don’t have any false confidence about that game.”

But “no false confidence” is not the same thing as “no confidence at all,” and the game, though tough, should be doable, midfielder Davis Lindsey ’08 said.

“It should be a tough game,” he said. “But last weekend, they lost to a team that we beat 12-8 in a scrimmage two weeks ago, so we think we’ll match up pretty well.”