The 2,000-plus fans that packed both sides of the bleachers at Reese Stadium on Saturday came to see the next chapter of a budding rivalry unfold on a cloudless day in New Haven. After last year’s contest between then-No. 1 Yale and then-No. 4 Brown thrilled all in attendance, it seemed impossible for this year’s game to live up to the hype.
But spectators did not leave Reese Stadium disappointed on Saturday, watching the No. 15 Bulldogs (8–3, 5–0 Ivy) avenge last season’s defeat to the Bears (5–5, 2–2) with a 18–12 victory. In a game that witnessed the two high-octane offenses fire off a combined 100 shots, the Elis secured a share of the Ivy League regular season title — their first since 2010 — while also clinching home-field advantage in next month’s conference tournament.
“We settled in defensively,” head coach Andy Shay said. “We felt like if we kept playing the way we were, we would wear them down by the end of the game. I think if you look at the second half, that is what we did.”
Throughout Yale’s seven game win streak, the Elis have relied on extra possessions from their dominance at the faceoff X. However, the Bulldogs won just one more draw than the Bears on Saturday. Without the usual cushion at the X, Yale’s offense had to out-execute Brown’s, which entered the contest as the fourth best in the nation and captained by the reigning player of the year, attacker Dylan Molloy.
The Elis did more than just out-execute Brown, scoring the program’s most number of goals in an Ivy contest since 1987. Attacker Ben Reeves ’18, a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award Molloy received last year, went for a career-high 10 points by ways of five goals and five assists. Attacker Matt Gaudet ’20 and midfielder Eric Scott ’17 also notched four goals each.
Despite the offensive onslaught, defender Aidan Hynes ’20 and goalie Phil Huffard ’18 were as clutch as any of Yale’s offensive weapons. Hynes, starting in just his fifth collegiate game, held Molloy to just three goals and an assist. The Tewaaraton winner also turned the ball over three times under the watchful eye of Hynes and quick double-teams from the Yale defense.
“[Molloy’s] incredible with everything he can do: his low angle shooting, his dodging, his feeding,” Reeves said. “I thought Hynes did a great job on him.”
Still facing a barrage of shots, Huffard matched his career high of 15 saves on the day, with five coming in the hard-fought first quarter. Bears goaltender Phil Goss matched Huffard with an impressive 15 saves as well. However, the freshman could not keep shots from Bulldogs like Scott or Gaudet out of the goal.
Brown managed to keep the score close for much of the contest, and back-to-back goals from Molloy in the waning minutes of the half tied up the game at seven heading into the break. Heading back onto the field for the second half, the Elis were determined to take the lead again. Just over a minute into the third quarter, Reeves tallied his fifth point with an assist to attacker Jack Tigh ’19, who put the Bulldogs back on top. A mini scoring run gave Yale a three-goal lead, its biggest of the day to that point, with 10 minutes remaining in the third. The teams traded goals for the remainder of the period with the Bulldogs maintaining a three-goal advantage heading into the final 15 minutes of play.
“I thought we played really well as a team,” Scott said. “I thought there were some [lapses in] fundamentals offensively and second half we cleaned it up.”
Not complacent, the Yale offense continued its stellar performance, scoring another five goals in the fourth quarter. The defense also continued to pressure Brown’s star players and held the Bears to just two goals in the final stretch to secure the ultimate six-goal victory.
Yale has just two games left in the regular season before returning to Reese Stadium to host the Ivy League tournament.