The men’s lacrosse team’s defense made a statement yesterday in its 10-2 victory over Air Force at Reese Stadium.

After giving up 17 goals to Dartmouth in a 17-14 loss in Hanover, N.H. on Wednesday, the Bulldog defense rebounded in the most emphatic of ways, holding the Falcons to their lowest goal total of the season. Air Force (3-7) didn’t get on the scoreboard against Yale (4-8, 0-5 Ivy) until midway through the fourth quarter, by which time the outcome of the game had already been decided.

Captain defenseman Pat Grimm ’08 attributed his team’s success on defense to a variety of factors.

“We had a lot of kills [when the defense gets ground balls],” he said. “We also wanted to be physical and put pressure on them, which forced them into committing turnovers.”

Goalie George Carafides ’08 was a major reason for the defense’s resurgence, making a career-high 19 saves, including nine in the final quarter, to prevent any chance of an Air Force comeback.

Attackman Michael Karwoski ’09 led the Bulldogs on offense with three goals for the second straight game. Two of his tallies came in the third quarter, when the home team turned what had been a close game into a comfortable lead with five goals in the period.

Following its impressive offensive performance against Dartmouth, the Yale offense struggled to find the net in the first half on Sunday. Attackman Tyler Casertano ’08, who had two goals and an assist on the day, acknowledged that a surprising defensive set created problems for the Bulldog offense in the first half.

“We had a lot of trouble in the first half,” he said. “They usually throw a defensive zone at their opponents, but they didn’t against us. It threw us off and took us a while to crack the code.”

According to Karwoski, a pep talk during halftime and the comfort of knowing how well their defense and goalie were playing gave the Bulldogs confidence in the third quarter to stretch their lead.

“The first half was the opposite of the Dartmouth game, our offense was sluggish,” he said. “But coach [Andy Shay] gave us a good talk during halftime, and we came out with more confidence and started playing as a team. It also helped knowing that if we turned the ball over, we had so much confidence in George and we knew we’d get the ball back.”

In the first half, it looked like the Elis would be in for a close, low-scoring game, with middie Jonathan Koenig ’08 scoring the lone goal with 6:10 left in the first quarter. The home team opened the game up in the third quarter, scoring five times to put them in control of the contest. Koenig started off the scoring with his second tally of the game with 9:42 left in the quarter. Casertano and Karwoski accounted for the rest of the offense with two goals each to give Yale a 6-0 lead going into the final period.

The Bulldogs added to their lead five minutes into the fourth with a high-bouncing shot by attackman Kyle Washabaugh ’08, but two quick goals by Air Force off face-off wins in the next minute put the score at 7-2 and energized the away squad into harboring slim hopes for a comeback.

Carafides prevented the away squad from getting any more goals back as he made countless clutch saves, including a string of three during a man-down situation. Yale was able to capitalize as the Falcons desperately pushed up on offense, scoring two counterattack goals in the last three minutes of the game, including a Colin Ford ’09 strike with 2:19 left on a man-down situation.

Grimm acknowledged that the win is a confidence booster, but said the team still has to prepare a lot before welcoming Harvard (4-7, 0-4 Ivy) on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Reese Field.

“Next week will be a challenge, but today helped,” he said. “We’re excited for this weekend, but we still have to sit down and watch film to see how Harvard plays and put our time in at practice.”