The blazing-hot No. 4 Yale men’s lacrosse team extended its winning streak to seven games when it took down Ivy-League foe Penn, whose resume included an early season upset of then-No. 1 Duke.
With the sun shining on Saturday’s game at Reese Stadium, the Elis (7–1, 3–0 Ivy) held Penn (5–5, 1–2) to just six goals in one of their strongest showings of the season. The 12–6 triumph marked their third conference matchup and win in as many games.
“It’s a big win,” captain and attacker Ben Reeves ’18 said. “Starting out three and [zero] in the league is absolutely huge. It was a great team effort. We had a lot of production from different guys on offense, the defense was incredible, and Jack Starr [’21] was incredible in the goal.”
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead Saturday afternoon when attacker Jack Tigh ’19 fired the first of his four goals past Penn netminder Reed Junkin just 45 seconds into the contest. The Quakers answered with a man-down goal and eclipsed the Eli lead with a man-up goal a few minutes later. After the early back and forth, Yale managed to regain a lead it would not concede for the rest of the contest thanks to unassisted goals from Tigh and midfielder Joseph Sessa ’19.
Attacker Brendan Rooney ’19, who started his second career game for the Elis on Saturday, was assisted by Reeves to open up scoring in the second quarter. Just over 30 seconds later, midfielder Lucas Cotler ’20 fired one into the back of the cage which was then followed by an unassisted goal from Reeves. Penn was able to stop the bleeding and cut its deficit to three when attacker Adam Goldner squeaked one by goalie Starr for his second of three goals in the game.
Boasting a 6–3 lead after halftime, attacker Jackson Morrill ’20 ripped one past Junkin to establish a four-goal Eli lead just over a minute into the third quarter. However, the Quakers struck back when Goldner tallied another man-up finish as Rooney sat on the sidelines after a slashing call. Reeves and Sessa both found the back of the net midway through the third quarter to extend the Bulldog lead to five goals before Penn defender Conor Keating snuck onto the score sheet with roughly six minutes left in the third frame.
Even with a comfortable 9–5 advantage, Yale did not let up during the fourth quarter. 45 seconds into the final period, Rooney received a bullet from Reeves and put it away to increase the Bulldog lead to five goals. Penn attacker Reilly Hupfeldt notched an unassisted goal for the Quakers’ lone score of the quarter before Tigh scored two goals in less than a minute and cemented the final score at 12–6.
While opponents’ defenses have been focusing on shutting down Reeves all season, other pieces of Yale’s offense, notably those of the junior class, have continued to step up and execute. Six different Elis scored on Saturday — led by five points each from Reeves and Tigh.
“It definitely shows our versatility,” Tigh said. “I mean the senior class as well as the juniors are definitely doing a great job at leading and I think it’s just showing off our freshmen and sophomores as well. So I think it’s definitely good to just have the juniors keep doing what they’re doing.”
Defensively, the Bulldogs showed their continued improvement by holding the Quakers to their lowest score all season and effectively shutting down Penn’s explosive attackers Simon Matthias and Adam Goldner.
Next up for the Bulldogs is a midweek home game against No. 18 Bucknell. Although the top-20 team fell by a single goal to Penn earlier in the season, the Bison will enter Tuesday’s contest fresh off huge upsets over No. 11 Loyola and No. 20 Army and looking to extend their own win streak to three.
“The message now is worry about the next game, which is Bucknell Wednesday night,” head coach Andy Shay said. “So for us, we try and do that and I give these guys a lot of credit, they’ve been listening the whole way. That’ll be an interesting matchup.”
The Bulldogs will host the Bison at Reese Stadium on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
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