Having won two consecutive games and facing Dartmouth in a key Ivy League contest, the No. 11 men’s lacrosse team needed to come out strong and control the game against the Big Green.
The Bulldogs did just that, scoring on their first four shots and keeping Dartmouth at bay en route to a smooth 10–4 win over the Big Green. Yale (8–2, 2–2 Ivy) dominated all aspects of the game and, with the win, jumped Dartmouth (3–5, 1–2 Ivy) in the conference standings.
The Bulldogs currently sit fourth in the Ancient Eight, but Cornell, Brown and Princeton — the three teams ahead of Yale — all lost this past weekend, giving Yale a golden opportunity to move up in the standings if they can maintain their winning ways.
To do so, the Elis will have to replicate the offensive and defensive success of their win over the Big Green. While Yale’s offensive effort was once again led by attackman Conrad Oberbeck ’15, eight players scored goals for the Bulldogs and 11 Yale players scored at least one point on the day.
Oberbeck continued the recent trend of hot offensive starts, scoring his only two goals in the game’s first three minutes. He opened the scoring with an unassisted goal only 74 seconds into the contest and added a man-up goal off of an assist from midfielder Shane Thornton ’15.
Yale also saw a significant contribution from long-stick midfielder Reilly Naton ’16. Naton had not recorded a point since the Feb. 28 win over Bryant, but scored an unassisted goal in the game’s fifth minute to give the Bulldogs a 3–0 lead. Just four minutes later, he assisted on a goal from attackman Ben Reeves ’18 to increase the Bulldog lead to 4–0 and close out the first-quarter scoring.
“Reilly Naton played really well, he had two points and had a lot of caused turnovers as well,” midfielder Harry Kucharczyk ’15 said.
In addition to Oberbeck and Naton’s multi-point efforts, Reeves scored a goal and added two assists, and midfielder Michael Keasey ’16 added two man-up goals. The Bulldogs also got a goal from midfielder Eric Scott ’17, who has now scored a goal in nine consecutive contests.
On the defensive end, the Bulldogs stonewalled Dartmouth’s attack. Yale kept the Big Green off of the scoreboard in both the first and fourth quarters and allowed a mere two goals in each of the other periods.
“After the two losses, we wanted to get our defensive identity back, our swagger,” Kucharczyk said. “We wanted to dictate the pace on the defensive end, so we went out there and challenged the ball and tried to draw a line in the sand and challenge them to run around us.”
Goalie Eric Natale ’15, who has struggled at times this season, turned in a fantastic effort, saving 10 of Dartmouth’s 14 shots on goal. Natale also tied with midfielders Brian Pratt ’17 and James Tjarksen ’15 for the team lead with three ground balls.
Kucharczyk mentioned Natale as a key to the team’s success on Saturday, but Keasey focused on Pratt and Tjarksen’s work on the field.
“James Tjarksen and Brian Pratt really stepped up and played well … we really saw an effort out of those two guys and they were able to do a really good job for us,” Keasey said.
With their third consecutive win, the Bulldogs were able to build up some momentum heading into the final, and toughest, stretch of their schedule. Yale faces three consecutive top-25 teams — No. 14 Brown, No. 10 Albany and No. 21 Harvard — before entering postseason play.
Against Brown, in particular, the Bulldogs must maintain the same level of defensive intensity in order to stay competitive with the Bears.
“For Brown, we need to focus on limiting their transition, which starts with possessing the ball on offense and limiting our turnovers,” Thornton said.
Despite the tough upcoming competition, though, Yale’s players are attempting to keep a simplistic mindset heading towards the postseason.
As players have said in the past, the Elis aim to not get too far ahead of themselves and keep their focus on what can be controlled.
“I don’t think our mindset has or will change since the start of the season,” Thornton said. “We just try to focus on the process of getting better and if we do the little things right, the bigger picture will most likely take care of itself.”
Yale hosts Brown on Saturday at Reese Stadium. Face-off is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.