In a game that could have easily swung either way, the men’s lacrosse team found itself in the all-too-familiar position of giving up the winning goal in the final minute of play.
Yale fell to Ivy rival Brown, 9-8, at Reese Stadium on Friday in a game that was tied five different times with no team ever leading by more than two goals. Brown attackman Kyle Hollingsworth’s game-winning goal with under 11 seconds left clinched the game for the Bears.
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Attackman Brendan Gibson ’10 and middie Kyle Washabaugh ’08 led the Elis on offense, scoring three and two goals, respectively.
Extra man opportunities proved to be the difference separating the two statistically even teams on the night. Although both teams only committed four penalties each, the Bears made theirs count by scoring on three of them. The Elis, on the other hand, were blanked on all four attempts with the extra man. Attackman Tyler Casertano ’08 attributed part of his team’s difficulties on these situations to unexpected formations by the Brown defense.
“Brown played very well in their man-down situations,” Casertano said. “They put pressure on us and forced us to alter our sets. We still had some opportunities, though, but had trouble finishing our shots.”
One positive for the Bulldogs was that they were able to get off to a strong start and secure a lead in the first quarter — which they had failed to do in their last two Ivy League contests, falling to early four- and three-goal deficits. Brown attackman Jack Walsh gave the away squad the lead just one minute into the game, but two low bouncing shots by middie Jerome Arnold ’10 and Washabaugh gave Yale the lead going into the second period.
According to Gibson, the Elis went into the game aiming to shoot low in hopes of foiling Brown goalie Jordan Burke.
“Part of the scouting report on their goalie was to shoot low, but he played great,” Gibson said.
Yale added to its lead with a Washabaugh goal a little over a minute into the second quarter, but four straight goals by Brown, including three on extra man opportunities, put the Bears in control.
From the get go, the Bulldog defense played a physical game with stifling one-on-one defense that forced the away team into many difficult shots. Although the Elis’ aggressiveness would seem to be the reason for giving away the penalties in the second quarter, captain and defenseman Pat Grimm ’08 attributed the penalties to minor mistakes.
“Being physical on defense is always our mindset,” he said. “At no point would we be less aggressive just to avoid penalties. We just have to play smarter, not softer.”
With time running out in the first half and trailing by two goals, the Elis scored the first last-second goal of the game. Gibson scored an acrobatic, off-balance goal with eight seconds left before the halftime buzzer, giving the home team a boost heading into the break.
The Bulldogs retained the momentum, immediately scoring to start off the second half. Face-off specialist Greg DuBoff ’08 won one of his 16 face-offs and raced down the field, feeding Washabaugh for a goal only seven seconds into the third quarter, knotting the contest at five.
The score mostly remained close for the rest of the game as Yale and Brown got three more goals each with over the course of the next 25 minutes, assuring that the last five minutes of the contest would end in dramatic fashion.
Despite the effectiveness of the low shoots in the beginning of the game, Burke would go on to make some great saves later on in the game for the Bears, including a crucial save off a close bouncing shot from Casertano with the score tied at 8-8 with less than three minutes left in the game. Another crucial save by Burke less than a minute later gave the away squad the ball back, enabling them to eventually score the game-winner.
The Elis have now lost six games by a combined margin of only 10 goals. In comparison, the Bulldogs’ two victories have been by a combined 11 goals. This is not a testament to their dominating performance against Hartford — it shows that had a few things gone differently, their record of 2-6 could have been flipped around.
The squad now travels to New York to face Albany on Tuesday. They resume the Ivy League schedule April 16 when they face Dartmouth on the road.