After the men’s lacrosse team returned to the national rankings last Saturday for the first time in four weeks, the No. 20 Bulldogs travel to Brown on Friday for their fifth Ivy contest of the season.
The Elis (5–4, 2–2 Ivy) extended their winning streak to three last Saturday with a 13–11 victory at Dartmouth. The team battles Brown (4–6, 1–2 Ivy) Friday for the fourth and final spot in the post-season Ivy League tournament and the chance for a NCAA tournament bid. No. 5 Cornell and No. 15 Princeton are undefeated in the conference and are shoo-ins for the first two spots. This leaves Yale, Brown and Harvard (6–5, 2–1 Ivy) fighting for the third and fourth place positions for the rest of the season.
Captain Michael Pratt ’12 told the News on March 31 that the team has to aim to finish 4–2 — and cannot afford to lose another game — if the Bulldogs hope to reach the conference tournament. Last weekend’s win against Dartmouth kept this hope alive and gave the Elis momentum heading into their penultimate Ivy League game this evening.
“We’re back to .500 in the Ivy League and looking forward to Brown on Friday,” Pratt said in the wake of last weekend’s victory.
When these teams met last season attackman Matt Gibson ’12 had two goals and four points in leading the Bulldogs to a 10–6 win over the Bears at Reese stadium. Gibson is the focal point of Yale’s offense and is currently ranked fourth in the Ivy League with an average of 3.33 points per game. Last year, the attacker averaged 3.00 goals per game over 12 contests and led the Elis in assists with 16.
Gibson is joined on attack by Brandon Mangan ’14 and Conrad Oberbeck ’15, who are averaging 1.78 and 1.67 goals per game respectively. But the most explosive member of the Bulldog offense recently is attacker Deron Dempster ’13. Since returning from injury two weeks ago against Penn, Dempster has scored 11 goals in the past three games and played a big part of the Bulldogs recent winning streak. Against Penn, Dempster notched five goals, including the game-winner with 11.9 seconds remaining.
Tough defense has also bolstered the Bulldogs during this stretch, and Yale has held its opponents to under nine goals per game in its last five contests. The Elis’ ability to cause turnovers, an effort led by defenseman Michael McCormack ’13, has factored into the team’s recent success. Yale is ranked sixth in the nation and first in the Ivy League in caused turnovers, and McCormack is ranked fifth in the country with an average of 2.44 per game.
This week Yale will come up against a Brown team that is second-best in the Ivy League at keeping the ball, and the Bulldogs and Bears will battle to control possession.
Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Brown’s Meister-Kavan Field.