After consecutive victories against Penn and Sacred Heart, the No. 11 men’s lacrosse team faces Dartmouth on Saturday with a chance to pull their Ivy record up to an even .500 and climb up the conference standings.
The Bulldogs are coming off of a dominant pair of wins — defeating the Quakers and Pioneers by a combined margin of 18 goals. But defeating Dartmouth and extending their winning streak to three should prove more difficult.
Looking at the season as a whole, the Elis and Big Green have followed opposite trajectories. Yale’s season started out with a promising 5–0 record that included an upset victory over top-five team and perennial power Maryland.
On the other hand, Dartmouth opened the season with three consecutive losses, two by double digits. Their third contest was a 10–9 defeat at the hands of Sacred Heart, whom the Bulldogs beat by a lopsided 13–3 margin on Tuesday.
However, the Big Green of February and early March shares little resemblance with today’s more fearsome Dartmouth squad.
“They’re pretty legit this year and they beat Harvard; they’re a very good team,” said midfielder Jason Alessi ’18. “It’s an Ivy League game, so you know it’ll be a one, maybe two-goal game. We’re ready for a fight.”
Since losing to Sacred Heart, the Big Green has reeled off wins in three of four games, including a defeat of No. 15 Harvard. Dartmouth has shown a knack for late-game heroics in the past few weeks, with all three victories coming by just a single goal.
On the other hand, the Bulldogs struggled in the beginning of Ivy play before righting the ship last weekend. Yale was doubled up at home by Cornell, 14–7, and followed that defeat with an 11–10 loss to the rival Princeton Tigers.
Facing a potential 0–3 Ivy League start, though, Yale regained control with Saturday’s easy win over Penn and Tuesday’s blowout of Sacred Heart. With their confidence back and two consecutive home Ivy games on the slate, the Elis have a golden opportunity to put together another lengthy winning streak.
Before last week’s 8–2 defeat at the hands of Cornell, Dartmouth had shown impressive offensive output, with an average of 13 goals in their three previous games. The Big Green’s balanced offensive attack is led by sophomore attackman Wiley Osborne, whose 17 points lead the team, and freshman midfielder Jack Korzelius, who has put together an impressive 13-goal freshman campaign.
On the other hand, Dartmouth has struggled to put together a solid defensive effort this season. The Big Green and its goalie, junior Blair Friedensohn, rank last in the Ivy League with over 13 goals allowed per game. Friedensohn’s 45.2 percent save percentage also ranks last in the Ancient Eight, making pinpoint Bulldog shooting and offensive teamwork the keys to overwhelming Dartmouth.
“We’re going to have the ball a lot … we can score pretty much at will when we’re patient and we get the little details right, so if we focus on that it’ll take us far in the postseason,” said midfielder Shane Thornton ’15.
In the past two games, the Bulldogs have shown both the offensive and defensive potential that can carry them far in the Ivy League and NCAA tournaments.
When asked about their postseason dreams, however, the Bulldogs proved noncommittal.
“We haven’t put much thought into our postseason opportunities,” midfielder Colin Flaherty ’15 said. “There’s still plenty of lacrosse left to play and our main focus is simply to win the rest of our games and see where we’re at when the regular season ends.”
Yale hosts Dartmouth on Saturday at Reese Stadium. Face-off is at 3 p.m.