The Yale men’s lacrosse team took a step closer to its first regular-season Ivy league title since 2010 this weekend with a respectable 13–6 victory over Dartmouth.
The first few minutes revealed that faceoffs and clears would plague the Big Green (1–8, 0–3 Ivy) throughout the contest against Yale (7–3, 4–0). Dartmouth lost the opening faceoff but after temporarily stifling the Yale offense, could not get the ball to its attackers to create any of its own offensive opportunities. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, settled into an offensive rhythm early on and led by at least seven for the entire second half.
Midfielder Conor Mackie ’18 won 14 of 16 faceoffs on the day while the Big Green had to substitute in six different players in an attempt to gain possession. Yale’s 10-man ride, lacrosse’s version of the full-court press, confused Dartmouth all day. The Big Green failed in its first two clearing attempts and ended up with a total of 18 turnovers throughout the game as a result.
Despite dominating possession in the first, the Bulldogs led by just three after the first quarter, as Dartmouth goalie George Christopher made four saves in the opening period. The Bethesda, Maryland, native proved Dartmouth’s best mode of defense throughout the game, stopping 15 Eli shots on the day.
“[The offense] is continuing to improve,” attacker Matt Gaudet ’20 said. “In the beginning of the year we started off pretty slow, but we’ve taken steps in the right direction and no matter who our opponent is we just have to try and get better each day.”
Yale’s offense began the scoring at 6:34 when midfielder Eric Scott ’17 sent a pass from the top of the key to Gaudet, who flicked the ball in from right in front of the goal. The freshman has scored the Elis’ opening tally in all three of their last games.
The Bulldogs then extended their lead just over a minute later when defender Aidan Hynes ’20 forced a turnover. Defender Robert Mooney ’19 came away with the ball and went straight to the net to tally his first goal of the season. Attacker Jackson Morrill ’20 assisted to Scott for the third Eli goal and midfielder Joe Sessa ’19 nearly saw success as the clock wound down before being checked by a Dartmouth opponent in what resulted in the Big Green’s second of seven penalties throughout the contest.
“I think [the game] was a little sticky,” head coach Andy Shay said. “They fouled a lot and we didn’t do a good job of finishing in man-up but we got our looks. We have to have our composure in those situations and finish better in those tough situations.”
Yale’s relentless pressure began to wear even more on the Dartmouth defense in the second quarter. The Bulldogs rattled off four goals in just over a three-minute span midway through the period. Up by seven, Morrill added an unassisted goal with 2:24 to play to give Yale an 8–0 lead heading into halftime.
One person noticeably limited in the scoring column was midfielder Ben Reeves ’18, the team’s leading scorer. Although Reeves tallied a single goal midway through the third period, he mostly shared the ball. He assisted on three Yale goals for a total of four points.
After the game, Scott noted that even when Reeves is not leading in the box score, the amount of attention he draws from opposing defenses gives other players opportunities to get open.
On the other side of the field, goaltender Phil Huffard ’18 played the first 57 minutes of the game for the Bulldogs. Huffard grounded the Yale defense, saving 8 total shots and three in the first 12 minutes of the fourth quarter before goaltender Brody Wilson ’20 stepped in for the final minutes of play.
“I think myself and the defense as a whole has played well in the last couple games,” Huffard said. “We’ve really gotten back to our fundamentals and the other things that made us successful early in the season.”
Yale has two conference games remaining in the season. A victory over Brown next week would clinch a share of the regular-season conference title and secure home field advantage for the Ivy League tournament.
The Bulldogs take the field against the Bears next Saturday at 12 p.m. at Reese Stadium.