The no. 10 men’s lacrosse team will head south on I-95 to put its two-game win streak on the line against Fairfield. The Bulldogs (2–0, 0–0 Ivy) face the Stags (2–2, 0–0, ECAC), who, despite averaging over 13 goals a game, have lost two straight contests.
“Our team is getting better everyday,” midfielder Colin Flaherty ’15 said. “Despite the freezing temperatures, snow and injuries, we have not slowed down at all. We just try and find a way to win, no matter what the odds.”
Last weekend against Bryant, the Elis scored six goals in the first quarter and played tenacious defense en route to a 9-8 win. Despite 55 total shots, Yale only broke through nine times due to the fine play of opposing goalkeeper Gunnar Waldt, who ranks second in saves in Division-I lacrosse. Surprisingly, the Bulldogs also lost the faceoff battle, as Dylan Levings ’14, who finished seventh in the nation with a 0.597 percentage last year, won just 7 of 21 faceoffs. That is not to discredit the performance of Fairfield’s Kevin Massa, who currently has a 60 percent success rate on restarts.
Yale’s offense has been balanced so far, with nine different players registering goals. Conrad Oberbeck ’15 and Brandon Mangan ’14, who was recently named to the Tewaaraton Award watch list along with classmate Levings, are tied with a team-high five points. Midfielders Michael Bonacci ’16 and Flaherty, who recorded a hat trick last weekend, round out the top four scorers.
The Elis revamped defense ranks second in the nation, surrendering seven goals per game so far this season. Second year starter Eric Natale ’15, has recorded double-digit saves in both games this season, posting a new 60 percent save percentage. Defenseman Michael Quinn ’16, a preseason All-American honorable mention, leads the unit with nine ground balls and five controlled takeaways. Fellow starters Chris Keating ’17 and captain Jimmy Craft ’14 will have to be on their toes going into a matchup with the fourth-highest scoring offence in the nation. The Bulldogs held a similarly offensively skilled St. Johns’ team to just six goals in Yale’s opening game.
“We are going to have to do a great job of communicating on Saturday,” Quinn said. “This Fairfield team is extremely talented, and they have great chemistry on offense, so making sure on offense that we communicate and trust each other are going to be keys to coming out with a W.”
The previously 17th-ranked Stags already have a pair of double-digit goal scorers in attackmen Eric Walden and Tristan Sperry, who have tallied 12 and 10 goals respectively. Fairfield, which has a 0.422 faceoff percentage, has lost two straight games after being unable to come back from 6-3 and 10-4 deficits at halftime against Providence and Hofstra, respectively.
Yale has won all seven of its matchups with the Stags since the series began, including last season’s 12–8 win, which included a four-point afternoon from Mangan and a dominating performance from Levings at the faceoff.
“We need to be tough on ground balls, make the best out of our shooting opportunities and play physical in order to get a win on Saturday,” Mangan said. “As long as we execute what we worked on all week in practice and shoot the ball better than last week, we should be in good shape.”
The Bulldogs take on the Stags at 3:00 p.m. in Fairfield on Saturday.