The No. 11 Yale men’s lacrosse team showed its dominance Tuesday afternoon when it took the early lead over UMass and never looked back, leading by as many as nine goals before clinching a 13–10 win.
After earning their first win of the season against Michigan on Saturday, the Bulldogs (2–1, 0–0 Ivy) traveled to Amherst on Tuesday to take on UMass (1–3, 0–0 Colonial Athletic Association) in a midweek contest. While last year’s meeting ended in an 11–9 defeat for the Elis, Yale redeemed itself by cruising to a three-goal victory this time around. Although the Minutemen scored the final six goals of the game, Yale had built a big enough lead to survive the late charge.
“The last two weeks we’ve really been stressing communication and playing together, and I thought in the first 50 minutes of the game we really did well with that,” midfielder Joseph Sessa ’19 said. “We let up a lot of goals at the end so I think heading into Saturday we need to focus on playing a complete game for 60 minutes.”
Yale started the game with its foot on the gas pedal, as four different Elis scored in the first 15 minutes of play. Sessa ignited the offense, notching his first of two goals on the day just six minutes into the game. Just over two minutes later, attacker Will Cabrera ’21 found the back of the net to make it 2–0. Both of Yale’s opening goals were assisted by attacker Jackson Morrill ’20, who finished the day with a game-high five assists.
UMass mustered up a goal of its own after attacker Jesse Leung caught a pass from midfielder Jeff Trainor and buried it in the back of the cage. But the Bulldogs closed the half with two more of their own goals, coming from attacker and captain Ben Reeves ’18 and midfielder John Daniggelis ’19.
Despite Trainor opening up the second quarter with a goal of his own just a minute and a half into play, the Bulldogs closed the half with all the momentum, scoring five unanswered goals. Reeves scored or assisted on all five goals, and finished the day with four goals and three assists for his third straight game with at least six points.
With the score at 9–2 going into halftime, the contest looked out of reach for the Minutemen. As much as Reeves sparked a prolific first half for the Eli offense, the efforts of goaltender Jack Starr ’21 helped the Yale defense post perhaps its best half of the young season. The Washington, D.C. native saved 11 of the 13 shots he faced in the opening 30 minutes and finished with a career-high 15 saves. Several of his four second-half saves came at crucial junctures as the Minutemen tried to rally.
Refusing to wave the white flag, UMass’s attacker and leading scorer, Buddy Carr, tallied two man-up goals to begin the second half, the first coming just 12 seconds into the third period. The Bulldogs fought back, answering both goals and restoring the seven-point lead as the final 15 minutes of play approached.
Attacker Matt Gaudet ’20 found the back of the cage twice in the fourth frame, increasing the Eli advantage to nine. The sizable lead lulled Yale to sleep, however, and the Minutemen capitalized on the lackadaisical defense. Six unanswered goals cut Yale’s lead to just three, but time was not in UMass’s favor, as its tremendous surge came much too late in the contest to turn the game. As the clock struck zero, the Minutemen offensive run ended and the score was cemented at 13–10, giving the Elis their second consecutive win.
Midfielder Conor Mackie ’18 went 9–24 on faceoffs against the Minutemen marking his first shaky performance this year, after going 10–22 and 21–30 against Villanova and Michigan, respectively.
Tuesday’s 9–2 halftime lead was a change of pace for a Bulldog team that has made a name for itself with late comebacks and close games in recent years.
“We can’t rely on last year’s or even the year before or even any of the years,” head coach Andy Shay said after Saturday’s win over Michigan. “This pattern of ‘we’re just going to come back’ … we have to actually do the things right [early in the game].”
The Elis will continue their campaign on the road Saturday as they travel to Rhode Island to go toe-to-toe with Bryant.
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