Courtesy of Yale Athletics

The No. 20 Yale men’s lacrosse team struggled from the opening faceoff during a two-goal loss in Monday night’s game against the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, which dropped the team to 1–3 on the season.

The Minutemen (1–4, 0–0 Colonial Athletic Association) scored during the opening drive to secure a 1–0 lead just 50 seconds into the contest. For the remainder of the first quarter, UMass held a lead while the freshmen class helped Yale (1–3, 0–0 Ivy) keep the game close. Although the Bulldog offense passed better and shot more frequently than in Sunday’s loss to Bryant, it still failed to capitalize on its shot opportunities, falling 11–9 to the Minutemen in the Elis’ third consecutive loss.

“The game plan every game is to win faceoffs, make plays and score more goals,” UMass head coach Greg Cannella said. “I think we were able to do that today. … Obviously, Yale’s an outstanding team with great players, we asked our guys to fight, and that’s what they did.”

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After first quarter goals from attacker Matt Gaudet ’20 and midfielder Eric Scott ’19, the Elis trailed 3–2. During the second and third quarters, the Bulldogs’ inability to win a faceoff resulted in heavy offensive control for UMass. The Yale defense could not stop the Minutemen and gaps in the six-player unit left wide open shots that accounted for a third of the UMass goals. Nothing seemed to be going well for the Bulldogs as the referees failed to call a series of stalling plays on Minutemen as well.

With just 15 minutes left to play, the Elis finally seemed to find their rhythm. Midfielder Conor Mackie ’18 saw success in the midfield and attacker Ben Reeves ’18 completed a hat trick for Yale with his infamous left-handed shot. Late goals from attacker Jack Tigh ’19 and Reeves tied the game at nine with just 10 minutes left to play. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs’ comeback came up short, as the team had no answer for two quick Minutemen goals that finalized the 11–9 win over Yale.

“I think all told we just have to get better every day,” head coach Andy Shay said. “For us our expectations are lofty. … We need to focus on getting better and face the facts.”

The Elis, who began the season ranked No. 8 in the country, have dropped 12 places after just three games, and the loss to UMass marks the third time this season Yale has been upset in the nonconference portion of the season.

The Bulldogs will have three days to prepare before returning to action Saturday at Reese Stadium against Fairfield (2–3, 0–0 Colonial). Yale beat the Stags last year 10–5 after the Bulldogs took a 6–0 lead into halftime.

However, Yale will be hosting Fairfield without midfielder Michael Keasey ’16, who led the Bulldogs with three goals in last year’s meeting. Scott and Reeves also tallied two each. Goalie Phil Huffard ’18 was tremendous last year as well, stopping a career-high 14 shots.

The Stags provide Yale’s final nonconference tune-up before Ivy League play begins. During spring break, the Bulldogs host Cornell on March 18 and travel to No. 19 Princeton on March 24. Reeves combined for seven goals in Yale’s two victories against those Ancient Eight foes last year.

The Big Red and the Tigers have been the most dominant teams in the Ivy League for the last 20 years, with one of the two schools grabbing at least a share of the conference title every year between 1996 and 2015. However, both fell off in 2016, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively, in the Ivy League last year.

The tough times have continued for Cornell, which has yet to win a game this season. Princeton on the other hand, knocked off perennial power No. 7 Johns Hopkins last weekend in Baltimore. Tiger attackers Michael Sowers and Gavin McBride have combined for 19 goals and 18 assists in just four games this season.

Yale and Fairfield face off at Reese Stadium at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Correction, March 8: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to Yale’s opponent as the University of Massachusetts, Lowell when in fact it was the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.