Entering the fourth quarter on Saturday afternoon, the No. 14 men’s lacrosse team knew that history was working against them. The score was tied 6–6. The opponent, No. 7 Maryland, had won their last 10 matchups against Yale, with the only Bulldog victory coming in 1925. And the Terrapins had all the momentum, having scored four of the game’s last six goals.
For the deep Bulldog roster, though, this was no issue. Yale outscored Maryland 4–0 in the fourth quarter, repeatedly exploiting one of the nation’s top defenses and stifling an experienced Maryland attack en route to a 10–6 upset. For the Bulldogs (2–0, 0–0 Ivy), six different players contributed goals while the defense contained the Terrapins (1–1, 0–0 Big Ten) and their star attackmen Matt Rambo and Jay Carlson, limiting the pair to a goal apiece.
On the offensive end of the field, attackman Conrad Oberbeck ’15 once again led the way, leading the team with three of the Bulldogs’ 10 goals and adding two assists to tie for the team lead. Ben Reeves ’18 once again shined, making his presence felt with five shots on goal and converting two. Jeff Cimbalista ’17 also chipped in with a pair of goals, while Michael Keasey ’16 added a goal and two assists.
“On offense, we kept it really simple. We relied on our core offensive sets because we knew that they would not be sliding very often, requiring us to step up and beat our man one-on-one,” Oberbeck said. “Other than that, it was an excellent shooting day for many of us.”
The success of Oberbeck, Reeves, Cimbalista and Keasey is no surprise — the foursome combined for 12 goals and six assists in the season opener against UMass-Lowell.
The game’s biggest tallies, though, came from a different pair. After a scoreless second quarter that led them into the locker room tied at four, the Bulldogs got a go-ahead score just two minutes into the third quarter from midfielder Eric Scott ’17, reigniting the offense. And when the two teams entered the fourth quarter knotted at six-all, midfielder Colin Flaherty ’15 gave the Bulldogs a lead they would not relinquish with a goal off an assist from Oberbeck.
From there, the defense and face-off teams shut things down and ensured the Bulldogs would walk away victorious. The Terrapins could only manage a single shot on goal for the 15-minute period thanks to the stout Bulldog back line, and goalkeeper Eric Natale ’15 made his eighth and final save of the game to keep Maryland off the board.
For the senior Natale, the win was extra special, especially after failing to defeat the Terrapins two years ago.
“Being from Maryland definitely added a little extra meaning to the game, but our primary excitement about the win comes from the attention to detail and great execution,” Natalie explained.
Face-offs, a major concern for the Bulldogs coming into the game, turned out to be a significant advantage for Yale. Maryland’s All-American senior face-off specialist Charlie Raffa committed three first-quarter violations and was replaced for the entire second half. Bulldog specialists Jon Reese ’16 and Conor Mackie ’18 took advantage, combining to win all eight of their second half face-offs after compiling a 50 percent mark in the first half.
When asked to explain his joint success with Reese, Mackie called attention to the combination of preparation and good fortune that served the Bulldogs well against Maryland.
“We have a great group of four face-off guys that really lets us compete in practice and prepare for anyone. Raffa also got in some violation trouble early and we were able to take advantage of that,” Mackie said.
Ultimately, in a back-and-forth game, the Bulldogs were able to sustain their final run and come away victorious.
“Our whole motto is to stick to the process,” Keasey said. “It was a game of runs … but we felt like we were getting quality opportunities on the offensive side and didn’t need to make too many adjustments.”
The Bulldogs host Bryant this Saturday at 1 p.m.