A week after defeating Maryland with a fourth-quarter scoring surge, the men’s lacrosse team took care of business on Saturday from the outset against an inferior Bryant Bulldogs.
The No. 8 Bulldogs (3–0, 0–0 Ivy) held a commanding 5–1 lead after a quarter of play and rolled to a dominant 16–9 victory. After surrendering two of the first three goals in the second quarter, the Elis kept their lead over Bryant (1–3, 0–0 NEC) above three goals for the game’s final 30 minutes.
In the victory, seven different Bulldogs contributed goals and four players tied for the team lead with three tallies. Starting attackmen Conrad Oberbeck ’15, Jeff Cimbalista ’17 and Ben Reeves ’18 scored three goals apiece to pace the Bulldog offense and Eric Scott ’17 added three more off of the bench.
“Offensively, we just stuck to the plan,” Scott said. “It’s a balanced offense. There’s a lot of times where the attackmen are going to be the ones scoring the ball. But also from our group of midfielders, you can pick any one … somebody will have a good game.”
Additionally, the Elis received a pair of goals and an assist from midfielder Jason Alessi ’18, the first points of his Yale career. Alessi scored off of an assist from Reeves to extend the Yale lead to 6–2, giving Bulldog fans a glimpse of the team’s bright future. He also added an unassisted goal with five minutes left to conclude the scoring.
Although he did not contribute directly to the scoring total, Michael Bonacci ’16 led the team with four assists, including two in the game’s first period. The offensive contributions of Bonacci, in addition to the team’s leading trio of attackmen Scott and Alessi, serve as an indication of the strength of the Bulldogs’ offensive personnel.
“We played well as a team and our coaches did a great job of scouting and putting us in a position to be successful,” Bonacci said. “Our attack is playing unbelievably; … every day, it seems like someone else is playing their best game so far.”
Although Bryant came into the game unranked and having lost two of its first three contests, the team is by no means devoid of talent. The Bryant Bulldogs feature two first-team preseason All-Americans, goalie Gunnar Waldt and face-off specialist Kevin Massa.
While Yale’s face-off team of Jonathan Reese ’16 and Conor Mackie ’18 won only 10 of 28 face-offs against the senior veteran Massa, their contribution and ability to compete against the nation’s best in the face-off circle had an impact on the game.
“I think we did great with face-offs,” Scott said. “They had a tough guy [in Massa] and we knew that, but we did a really good job.”
Bryant goalie Waldt, on the other hand, was overwhelmed by the Yale attack. Waldt saved only one of 16 shots on goal before being replaced for the game’s final 10 minutes with the outcome already decided.
When asked about their success against Waldt, several Elis interviewed credited a combination of in-depth scouting and flawless execution. Multiple players mentioned that the coaches stressed the importance of beating Waldt high with their shots, and the Bulldog attack was able to execute that plan to the tune of 15 goals.
“When we are able to get those shots, we have been capitalizing,” Alessi said. “We got on the board early and often … which propelled us through the game.”
While the Bulldogs were able to triumph once again, they know that the next six days present a stiff challenge, including a midweek road test on short rest at St. John’s and a Saturday home game against in-state rival Fairfield University.
The players, though, appear unfazed by the challenge of playing on short rest.
“I think we should be just fine for the quick turnaround,” Alessi said. “Our coaches are making sure our nutrition is where it needs to be at this point.”
Yale faces St. John’s on Tuesday in Queens. The game is scheduled for 3 p.m. and will be carried on ESPN3.