After coming off a 16-goal victory, the team’s largest in five seasons, the No. 1/3 Yale men’s lacrosse team delivered another knockout punch on Saturday, defeating Ivy League foe Dartmouth 15–5 after outshooting the Big Green 48–27.
Yale (10–0, 4–0 Ivy) struggled at times in the game’s beginning, allowing the underdog Dartmouth (1–9, 0–4) to stay within three goals by the end of the first half. But a dominant third quarter, in which the Bulldogs scored nine goals while conceding none, put the game out of reach and allowed Yale to avoid a severe upset. The win marked Yale’s seventh straight over Dartmouth and the Big Green’s 16th Ivy League loss in its last 17 tries.
“The first quarter was a bit sloppy at times and their goalie made some big saves, but [head] coach [Andy] Shay stressed that we need to keep doing what we do and we would be fine,” midfielder Mike Bonacci ’16 said. “That’s what we did, and we are happy to come out with a win.”
Although Yale outshot the Big Green 14–4 in the first quarter, Dartmouth’s goalie Joe Balaban made eight saves in the opening period, and the Yale offense was unable to put anything past him other than a goal from midfielder Michael Keasey ’16, the first for either team in the contest. Dartmouth attackman Wiley Osbourne scored with 2:27 left in the first quarter, which finished with the score tied 1–1.
The Bulldogs opened the second quarter with three straight goals, creating a lead that they would never surrender. Midfielder JW McGovern ’16 and defenseman Jerry O’Connor ’18 scored within three minutes of each other before attackman Shane Carr ’16, a recent addition to the extra-man unit, scored on a man-up opportunity with 6:41 remaining in the half.
Yale converted on three of its five extra-man chances on the day for the second-straight game, marking another big improvement from the 28 percent season average with which the Bulldogs entered the game.
“We struggled early in the year [on the man-up], and our confidence was down a bit, but we kind of went back to the drawing board and built a plan we thought would work,” Keasey said. “We stuck to it and had some success.”
Dartmouth answered Carr’s goal a minute later to close the deficit to 4–2, but Bonacci responded soon after by picking up a rebound off Dartmouth goalie Joe Balaban and netting the ball to send the Bulldogs into halftime up 5–2.
The third quarter was all Yale, as six Elis scored all nine goals in the period. Keasey scored three to finish the day with a game-high four goals, though he was quick to credit his teammates for his success both on Saturday and throughout the year. The senior, who now has 23 goals in 10 games, has been the second-leading scorer for much of the season.
“I just have been on the receiving end of some good passes from teammates,” Keasey said. “Very few of my goals have been unassisted.”
Also during the third quarter, Carr added his second of the game and Reeves tallied his 26th and 27th goals of the season.
While the offense was piling on the goals, the defense did not allow a score for a stretch of 21:44 that spanned the second, third and fourth quarters. The stifling defense recalled Yale’s game against Sacred Heart last Tuesday night, when the Bulldogs held the Pioneers scoreless for 31:03 of straight game time.
Yale entered the fourth quarter with a 14–2 lead that was essentially impossible for Dartmouth to overcome, but the Big Green put up a fight in its attempt to keep the game close. Taking advantage of six Eli penalties in the quarter, Dartmouth outshot Yale 14–5 and outscored the Bulldogs 3–1.
“I’m a little disappointed with how we ended the game,” captain and defenseman Michael Quinn ’16 said. “We had some pretty uncharacteristic plays and were pretty undisciplined. It leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.”
Although the Yale win proved to come with ease on Saturday, the road gets much harder. The Bulldogs travel to No. 2/3 Brown next Saturday before ending the season at home against No. 6/7 Albany and Harvard the following two weekends. A win over Brown, which has lost just one game this season, would guarantee the Bulldogs at least a share of the Ivy League regular season title.
“Brown is a great team, and this week is going to be very important in terms of preparation,” Bonacci said. “Brown gives us a great game every year, and this time around will be no different. They are a very talented team and we will need to focus on the details in order to be successful.”
Yale’s game at Brown, the highest-ranked opponent on the Bulldogs’ schedule, will begin Saturday at 1 p.m.