While second-semester status has sapped many Yale students’ energy, the Bulldogs’ men’s lacrosse team showed no signs of senioritis as they beat Brown 10–6 at Reese Stadium on Saturday. The game was the last regular season home match for the members of the class of 2011.
After a pre-game ceremony to honor their seniors, the No. 18 Elis (8–2, 3–2) struggled early before taking control of the game in the second half. On the shoulders of attackmen Brian Douglass ’11 and Matt Gibson ’12, the Bulldog offense put nonstop pressure on Brown’s all-star goalkeeper Matt Chriss and put the Bear defense to shame with eight second-half goals.
“The defense played very well, and kept the game close when the offense was struggling in the first half,” midfielder Matt Miller ’12 said. “In the second half we played the style of lacrosse we strive for — winning ground balls and making hustle plays.”
Yale’s close defense, led by Michael McCormack’s ’13 five forced turnovers and four ground balls, as well as three big second-half saves by John Falcone ’11, prevented any shot at a late comeback from Brown (4–7, 1–3). Meanwhile, the Bulldogs greatly improved on offensive ball possession, suffering only 10 turnovers against Brown, compared with their 24 turnovers in an early-April loss to Penn.
The win brings the Bulldogs closer to a bid for the Ivy League post-season tournament, where the winner will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Yale is currently tied for second place in the conference with Penn, and only needs to maintain its spot in the top four to make the tournament. But questions still remain regarding the team’s ability to put together a 60-minute effort on both sides of the field.
“We definitely need to focus on playing the entire game,” Miller said.
Brown dominated from the opening faceoff of the first quarter, and Parker Brown put Yale in an early hole when he finished off a string of quick Brown passes with a shot that whistled over Falcone’s stick and into the top corner of the net 50 seconds into the game.
Turnovers plagued the Bulldogs in the following minutes, but the defense held strong against a sustained Bears attack. Two more shots nonetheless got by Falcone before the quarter was done, and the Elis soon found themselves in a 3–0 hole.
Douglass, the team’s leading scorer, finally put Yale on the board in the second quarter. Though Brown responded quickly, he scored again before halftime to pull the Elis within two goals. That 4–2 deficit held until the two teams returned to their locker rooms. But the Bulldogs would not let it last when play restarted.
Brandon Mangan ’14 scored just 16 seconds into the third quarter, and three more Elis soon tallied to give Yale the lead. Andrew Cordia’s ’13 fourth goal of the season tied the game at 4–4 4:25 into the half, and though the Bears retook the lead a minute later, the advantage would be its last. Greg Mahony ’12 and Michael Lipin ’13 scored within 2:05 of each other and the score remained 6–5 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
From then on, Senior Day was all Yale. Gibson earned his first goal of the game and a spot on the highlight reel when he sprinted around the goal, jumped to get some distance over his defender, and fired home a twisting, leaping shot. His acrobatic effort made the score 7–5 and proved to be the game-winning goal.
The Bears’ Rob Schlesinger ended five minutes of scoreless play and pulled Brown within a single goal with a goal 6:46 before the final whistle. But the Bulldogs, who gave up four goals in the last two minutes of their win over Dartmouth last week, did not let the visitors take back the momentum this time. Jack Flaherty ’11 and Gibson each notched unassisted goals in the game’s final five minutes, and Yale rolled to victory.
“I’m very grateful and honored to have played with [my senior teammates] for four years and it was special to see everyone on the team contribute towards making Saturday a memorable Senior Day,” Falcone said.
The Elis travel to Bryant on Tuesday and Georgetown on Saturday for their last non-league games of the season.