On Tuesday night, as Yale seniors tightened up their theses and juniors nervously anticipated secret society pre-taps, Brian Douglass ’11 and Matt Gibson ’12 led the No. 18 Yale men’s lacrosse to an 11–9 victory over Providence College.
Last Friday, the Elis let a three-goal halftime lead slip away to No. 12 Penn in a triple-overtime loss that dropped the Bulldogs (6–2, 1–2 Ivy) into a fifth-place tie with Princeton in the Ivy League. Tuesday night, the Elis recovered some of their lost momentum.
“We were really pumped to wash the bad taste out of our mouth,” defenseman Phil Gross ’13 said. “You’re only as good as your last game.”
Attackman Douglass made sure that Yale was going to finish Tuesday’s game in regulation, scoring a game-high five goals on nine shots en route to the 11–9 win. Douglass and Gibson returned to true form against Providence’s (3–6) loose zone defense, teaming up for 10 points — more than the duo has managed in the past three games combined.
While the Bulldogs once again failed to play a complete game — nearly letting the Friars tie up the game early in the fourth quarter — heads-up offensive play secured the much-needed win for Yale. The Elis hope to carry the momentum forward, as they return to conference play against Dartmouth (4–4, 1–1) on Saturday.
“Everyone’s real excited to get back into league,” captain and long stick midfielder Pat Coleman ’11 said.
Providence opened the scoring with a goal just 1:22 into the game, but Yale took over from there. The Elis scored five of the next six to build a 5–2 lead early in the second quarter, and maintained their lead until the final whistle.
Two of those goals came in the first 10 seconds of the second quarter, and both started with big face-off wins from Dylan Levings ’14. Although Levings stands 7 inches shorter than Providence counterpart Zachary Rogers, the rookie dominated the draws all game, and finished with 13 wins on 16 tries at the center X.
Buoyed by Levings’ work, the Elis dominated the possession game all night and built a solid 8–3 lead by the end of the first half. Gibson led the blue-and-white effort in the last minutes before halftime, as he scored once and had two assists on Yale’s final three goals.
“Providence you can always count on to run the zone,” midfielder Matt Miller ’12 said. “It’s all about the plays you run and how you execute them. We just ran them well today.”
But the Elis could not maintain their first half momentum when the two teams came back out of the locker room. Providence attackman Jake Nolan set the tone for the second half with an early goal, and the Friars began chipping away at the Yale lead. Less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, the Friars had cut the 8–3 Bulldog lead to 9–8.
“The defense is struggling a bit,” Gross added. “We need to work out some kinks in order for us to continue to have success.”
But Miller came through with a big goal to end the Providence run, and the Elis held on from there. With the Friars’ defense playing in their traditional zone, the Yale attack was given plenty of room to possess in the box. In perhaps the strangest possession of the game, Douglass held on to the ball for 4:07 behind the Providence cage, before a defender finally decided to approach him.
“We were completely fine with [Providence’s zone defense],” Coleman said. “We can sit there all day.”
Douglass ended a final frame filled with long Yale possessions with his fifth goal of the day just 36 seconds before the final whistle. The Bulldogs’ three-goal lead withstood Providence’s desperate efforts in the waning seconds of the game — which included an Evan Helda goal with a single second to go — as the Elis escaped with an 11–9 win Tuesday night.
“Playing under the lights at home is great,” Kirby Zdrill ’13 said. “It makes for a really intense, exciting atmosphere and it’s always good to have strong support from the fans.”
Yale continues its home stand against Dartmouth at Reese Stadium at 2:30 pm on Saturday. The lights will not be on.