Following their first defeat of the season against Cornell, the No. 9 Yale men’s lacrosse team looked to rebound against Ivy rival No. 13 Princeton on Saturday. The last five matchups between the Bulldogs and Tigers were decided by a margin of only one goal, including last year’s 16–15 Yale victory, and this contest was no different.
This time, however, it was Princeton who managed to hold on for the 11–10 win, riding a strong second quarter to a commanding lead and holding off the Bulldogs’ furious fourth-quarter rally. With the loss, the Elis (5–2, 0–2) drop two games below the Tigers (6–1, 2–0) in the conference standings.
“I wouldn’t say we had a bad day,” attackman Michael Bonacci ’16 said. “I’d say we had a bad 15- or 20-minute span where we dug ourselves a hole that we couldn’t quite get out of.”
Yale started the game with a strong effort on both offense and defense, outscoring the Tigers 3–2 in the first quarter while winning all six faceoffs. The Yale unit found success in the circle against the Tigers, taking 70.8 percent of all faceoffs. Midfielder Jonathan Reese ’16 was particularly dominant, winning 12 of his 15 faceoff appearances.
In the second quarter, however, the wheels fell off for the Bulldogs. After outshooting Princeton 10–7 in the first, they were outshot 10–6 in the next period, leading to a 5–1 scoring advantage for the Tigers. Princeton midfielder Kip Orban played particularly well against the Yale defense, tallying three of the five goals in the quarter.
“It was a really competitive game and it didn’t feel like they were dominating us in the second quarter,” midfielder Eric Scott ’17 said. “You stand there and look at the scoreboard and all of a sudden we’re down five goals; it happened really quickly.”
Facing a 7–4 halftime deficit, the Bulldogs attempted to catch up but ran out of time to close the margin. Paced by a game-high seven points from star attackman Conrad Oberbeck ’15, the Bulldogs scored an impressive six goals after halftime, including the game’s final three tallies.
Midfielder Michael Keasey ’16 scored off of an Oberbeck assist with 2:50 remaining to narrow the gap to 11–10. Ultimately, however, the Tiger defense stood strong and shut down Yale, running out the clock and escaping narrowly with a win.
In addition to the excellence of Oberbeck, attackman Ben Reeves ’18 continued his stellar freshman campaign with four points, including two of Yale’s final four goals as they attempted to stage their comeback.
On the other end of the field, midfielders Mark Glicini ’16 and Conor Mackie ’18 paced the team with five and four ground balls, respectively. Mackie also won more than half of his faceoff opportunities in a supporting role.
In the end, the Bulldogs were done in by sloppy play with the ball and an inability to stop Princeton’s two offensive stars. Yale was unable to capitalize on their dominance in the faceoff circle and outshooting Princeton by seven.
“Our offensive strategy was better than it has been in the past few games, but we turned the ball over too much to see the overall benefit,” Oberbeck said. “Against Princeton, we panicked a little when we went down which hurt our ability to perform.”
The Elis turned the ball over 15 times to Princeton’s 11, including six in the game’s deciding and frantic fourth quarter. In the game’s final seconds, a late turnover cost the Bulldogs their final chance at a game-tying shot.
Yale was also unable to stop either of Princeton’s stars, allowing Orban and attackman Mike MacDonald a combined six goals and four assists. MacDonald had a goal and an assist during the pivotal second quarter and assisted on the ultimate game-winning goal which put the Tigers up 11–7 early in the fourth quarter.
After two tough Ivy losses, Yale will attempt to rebound at Penn and make their move towards an Ivy tournament berth.
“Those two consecutive Ivy losses, while unfortunate, helped us understand where we are exposed and what we must focus on from here on out,” Glicini said. “All that matters now is the next game, so that is where our focus remains.”