Jack Warhola

After almost letting a nine-goal advantage slip away in Tuesday’s game against UMass, the Yale men’s lacrosse team did not fall prey to the same mistake on Saturday, and instead produced a complete, hard-fought performance against Bryant.

In their second road contest in a row, the Elis (3–1, 0–0 Ivy) traveled to Rhode Island to take on Bryant (2–4, 0–0 Northeast) in a Battle of the Bulldogs. The matchup proved to be a seesaw contest, as neither team was able to gain a significant edge as Yale led by just one score entering the fourth quarter. Unlike Tuesday’s game, in which they ceded a four-goal advantage to UMass in the last frame, Yale outscored Bryant by two in the fourth quarter to secure a 11–8 victory.

“Having the opportunity to play two great teams last week, UMass and Bryant, we really approached these games as opportunities for our team to focus on ourselves and improve,” midfielder John Daniggelis ’19 said. “After finishing the game poorly against UMass we wanted to play a full 60 minutes against Bryant. We felt we finished the game against Bryant much stronger.”

The Elis drew first blood on Saturday after attacker Will Cabrera ’21 moseyed around to the back of the cage and found attacker Matt Gaudet ’20, who fired one just past Bryant goalie Kevin Beimfohr. However, Yale’s one-goal advantage did not last long, as the other Bulldogs managed to score on netminder Brody Wilson ’20 just seven seconds later.

With the score locked at 1–1 going into the second quarter, Bryant took the lead five minutes into the second frame with a fast-break goal from attacker Jake Buonaiuto after a missed shot from Cabrera. Answering the Bryant tally, attacker and captain Ben Reeves ’18 scored his first of four goals in Saturday’s contest with a man-up goal assisted by attacker Jack Tigh ’19. Just 13 seconds later, Reeves found the back of the cage again to give the Elis a one-goal advantage with seven minutes left in the first half. Afterwards, it was attacker Lucas Cotler ’20 to get his name on the stats sheet, as he charged from the back of the cage and ripped one to the top left corner of the net.

Bryant was able to add another tally to their score before the conclusion of the half when attacker Marc O’Rourke bounced one past Wilson’s leg, who made his first start in goal for the Elis since last spring. The Downingtown, Pennsylvania, native finished the day with 10 crucial goal-stopping saves, six of which came in the first half of the contest. He dealt with a high volume of shots, as Bryant outshot Yale 38–30.

“I approached the game like I would any other, I fell back on my team’s preparation and made sure to go into the game with composure,” Wilson said. “The defense was a big factor in our win. I was able to rely on the guys in front of me to make the plays we needed and limit the other team’s shots.”

The third frame was back-and-forth for its entire duration — all three Bryant goals were immediately answered by one from Yale. Gaudet, Reeves and midfielder Tyler Warner ’18 picked apart the Bryant defense and fired shots past Beimfohr. The Eli advantage remained narrow, at just one goal, as the final 15 minutes of play approached.

The Elis finally pulled ahead in the fourth when attacker Joseph Sessa ’19 sparked an offense run with a goal two minutes into the quarter. The Bulldogs gave themselves even more breathing room when attacker Jackson Morrill ’20 scored a pair of unassisted goals within a span of about two minutes. However, Bryant squeezed two past Wilson to cut the Yale lead down to two. Reeves — who finished with four goals, marking his third four-goal game of the young season — scored with 18 seconds left in the contest to seal the Yale victory.

The Elis struggled to win faceoffs, as Bryant edged them in that category 13–9. Midfielder Conor Mackie ’18 struggled for the second time this season, going to faceoffs with a meager 6–16. However, Mackie was forced to go toe-to-toe with Bryant’s Kenny Massa, who ranks fifth in the country in faceoff percentage with 0.675.

“I don’t think the faceoff game affected how the overall game went too much,” Cotler said. “Bryant just held the ball and tried to stall, to retain possession and keep the ball out of our hands more than attack the goal.”

The Bulldogs will take on local foe Fairfield on Saturday.

Cristofer Zillo | cris.zillo@yale.edu