Jilly Mehlman

Plagued by turnovers, the Yale men’s lacrosse team looked as if it might drop its second straight game as it trailed Michigan by two goals heading into halftime, but the No. 11 Elis flipped the script on the Wolverines in the second half and won their home opener 15–11.

The Bulldogs (1–1, 0–0 Ivy) clinched their first win of the season on Saturday at Reese Stadium after a shaky start to the year. A career-high five goals from attacker Jack Tigh ’19 and dominance in the faceoff X from midfielder Conor Mackie ’18 were crucial in guiding the Elis to what turned into a decisive win over Michigan (2–2, 0–0 Big Ten).

“We brought a lot of energy,” Tigh said. “We were really getting on each other and making sure we were doing every detail possible. That got us really ready for this game compared to the last one.”

The Bulldogs got off to a quick start Saturday afternoon after Tigh buried a shot into the back of the cage just a minute into the first quarter. However, the Wolverines were able to answer the Eli goal roughly five minutes later. The remainder of the quarter saw Michigan match Yale’s offense toe-to-toe until captain and attacker Ben Reeves ’18 tallied a pair of goals with under a minute remaining on the clock to give the Bulldogs a 4–2 lead heading into the second.

Capitalizing on the momentum at the end of the first 15 minutes of play, Tigh sent a shot passed Michigan goalie Matt Towbridge for a three-goal lead to mark the opening of the second quarter. But the trend did not last for the Bulldogs, as the Wolverines came storming back, scoring six goals in a 10-minute span. Attacker Jackson Morrill ’20 managed to stop the bleeding after receiving a pass from midfielder Lucas Cotler ’20, but the Elis still found themselves down 8–6 heading into the half.

“We had a really good productive talk with our defensive coach in the locker room there,” goalie Jack Starr ’21 said. “We were missing things and we started clicking in the second half. We really just locked in and started playing our defense … It was mental.”

After letting Michigan midfielder Decker Curran notch another goal early in the third quarter, Yale’s defense finally found its rhythm and settled in after a huge save from Starr with about 11 minutes left in the period. On the other side of the field, Tigh and Morrill both found the back of the net to cut the deficit to one. Morrill would go on to record two more goals in the third quarter, one unassisted and one on a pass from Reeves that he fired off quickly before being decked by a Wolverine defender. As the clock wound down towards the final quarter, attacker Will Cabrera ’21 put his name on the scoresheet as well and gave Yale its first lead in 25 minutes.

The Eli offense extended its 11–10 advantage in the final 15 minutes of play while Starr recorded his best quarter of the game, allowing just one goal for the Maize and Blue. Just over halfway into the quarter, Tigh recorded his fifth tally to give the Elis a two-goal lead. Shortly after, Reeves forewent a shot opportunity, instead feeding the ball to attacker Matt Gaudet ’20 who slipped it past Towbridge for the goal. Playing unselfishly all day, Reeves tallied two goals and four assists, bringing his season statistics through two games to an astounding six goals and seven assists.

Midfielder Joseph Sessa ’19 added two goals in the final four minutes to increase the Bulldogs’ lead and ultimately secure the four-goal victory for Yale.

“Last week was more of what we saw in the first half,” head coach Andy Shay said.  “What we wanted to be is what we were in the second half. We’re going to be a work in progress. I think a lot of people think out of the box we’re going to be really good. That’s just the talent, that’s not the execution. That’s something that we’re going to need to work on.”

Much of Yale’s success on Saturday came from Mackie’s clinic at the faceoff X. The senior garnered additional possessions for Tigh and the offense throughout the day, winning 21 of 30 faceoffs and forcing the Wolverines to rotate in three faceoff men to try to slow him down. After the win, Shay credited Mackie for buckling down and adhering to his fundamentals.

The Elis travel to Amherst to take on UMass at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

Jane Miller | jane.s.miller@yale.edu

Cristofer Zillo | cris.zillo@yale.edu