The No. 11 Yale men’s lacrosse team will play its first game at Reese Stadium in 289 days when it hosts Michigan this Saturday.
After losing their first game to No. 7 Villanova in overtime last weekend, the Bulldogs (0–1–0, 0–0–0 Ivy) will seek redemption in their first home game of the 2018 season. Michigan (2–1–0, 0–0–0 Big Ten) will travel to New Haven already three games deep into its schedule and coming off a loss to Yale’s Ancient Eight foe No. 18 Penn.
“We are very excited about the home opener this week against Michigan,” midfielder Jack Tigh ’19 said. “We look forward to being back on Reese Stadium [and] playing a live game in front of our Yale fans.”
Last weekend’s season opener against Villanova saw another game determined by a single goal, continuing a trend from last year’s campaign. At the end of the overtime thriller at the Patriot Cup — held in Frisco, Texas — both teams had an opportunity to return home with a win. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they could not close out the victory despite a seven-point performance from captain and attacker Ben Reeves ’18.
Neither team could hold a lead of more than two goals in the back-and-forth contest. The Elis overcame a few first-half deficits and held 8–6 and 9–7 leads in the final 30 minutes. But Yale failed to answer two Villanova goals in the final five minutes of play. As the clock wound down, Reeves found attacker Matt Gaudet ’20, who stood just a few feet outside the crease. But his shot sailed agonizingly wide of the post, sending the game into extra time with the score locked at nine.
Both teams had possession in the overtime period, but Villanova managed to steal the victory when attacker Ben Seibel buried the game-winner with just 20 seconds remaining in the first extra frame.
“We just need to get back to our basics that have made us a better team in the past,” attacker Jackson Morrill ’20 said. “The loss [to Villanova] will push guys to get better and prepare for Michigan.”
Although lacrosse at Michigan dates back to the early 1900s, the team did not earn NCAA Division I status until 2012, the same year Yale clinched an Ivy League title and a ticket to play Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA tournament. After playing in the ECAC for three seasons, the Wolverines joined the newly minted Big Ten lacrosse conference in 2015.
In three years, the team has gone 17–23 in a talented conference including lacrosse powerhouses Johns Hopkins and Maryland as well as three teams currently ranked in the nation’s top 25, in Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers. Last season, Michigan saw its highest finish yet when it went 8–6, even claiming a respectable victory over then-No. 10 Penn last March.
When the teams last met in 2014, Yale walked away with a comfortable 13–7 win. But this Saturday, with defender Aidan Hynes ’20 sidelined due to injury, the Eli defense will have its work cut out for it against Wolverine midfielders Decker Curran and Brent Noseworthy, and first-year attacker Alex Buckanavage. Decker and Noseworthy have combined for 15 goals already this season, while Buckanavage has tallied six of his own.
Yale’s offense will have the perfect opportunity to shake off the rust against Michigan’s sophomore goaltender Matt Trowbridge. The St. Louis, Missouri native has played just three games in the net for the Wolverines and recorded just five saves in last week’s loss to the Quakers. Although seven different Bulldogs tallied points in last week’s match up, the offense got off to a slow start that included a 25-minute scoreless period in the first and second quarters.
The Bulldogs will look to improve their face-off performances, as they were unable to win a single face-off in the final frame against the Wildcats last weekend. Through its first three games, Michigan currently boasts a 55.2 percent face-off percentage, almost 10 percent higher than the Elis’ 45.5 mark last week.
“I’m pumped for the game and excited to play in front of a home crowd,” goalie Jack Starr ’21 said. “Saturday will be fun, but in truth it’s just another day I get to step onto Reese and play with an amazing group of guys under the best coaching staff in the nation.”
The Bulldogs will host the Wolverines in their first home contest of the season at 12 p.m. on Saturday.
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