Last April, the Yale men’s lacrosse team beat Brown to secure a share of the 2017 Ivy League regular season championship, then bested the Bears at home again two weeks later to clinch the Ivy League Tournament title as well.
This year, the Bulldogs (8–2, 4–0 Ivy) will hit the road and travel to Providence to go toe-to-toe with Brown (5–4, 2–1) in a highly anticipated conference contest. With Brown sitting just outside the top-20 national rankings, the Bulldogs will need to perform at or above the level they did during last week’s victory over Dartmouth to ensure a victory.
“We treat every game with the same amount of care and preparation, but yes Ivy League games are a little extra special,” attacker John Daniggelis ’19 said. “Brown is a great program with great coaches and always is a difficult opponent for us every year. Our team is very excited for the opportunity we have this weekend to get better as a whole.”
Yale’s explosive offense was on full display against Dartmouth last Saturday, as attacker Jack Tigh ’19 found the back of the cage just 28 seconds into the contest and the Elis never looked back. After preventing the Big Green from scoring in the first 15 minutes of play, the Bulldogs held a commanding 6–0 lead going into the second. Unfortunately for Dartmouth, Yale was looking to avenge its recent loss against Bucknell, and the scoring onslaught continued. Saved only by the final horn, Dartmouth fell to the Elis 17–7.
The Bulldogs relied on impressive performances from numerous players in order to emerge successfully from Saturday’s contest. Attacker Jackson Morrill ’20 led all scorers with five goals and tallied two assists, while captain and attacker Ben Reeves ’18 finished with a single goal and four assists. On the other side of the field, goalie Jack Starr ’21 managed to corral eight saves against the Big Green despite netminders Brody Wilson ’20 and Hoyt Crance ’19 seeing time in the crease as well.
“We’re trying to make the Bucknell loss as constructive as possible,” midfielder Conor Mackie ’18 said. “It exposed a number of areas that we needed to tighten up, and the Dartmouth game was a great opportunity for our team to get better. Everyone responded well and I think the win will give confidence going into the tail end of our schedule.”
The last time Yale faced Brown in the regular season, the Elis posted one of their best games of the year. The 18–12 victory saw a 10-point Reeves explosion with five goals and five assists. Attacker Matt Gaudet ’20 and midfielder Lucas Cotler ’20 both had breakout performances as well, and defender Aidan Hynes ’20 minimized Brown’s offensive damage by holding 2016 Tewaaraton Award winner Dylan Molloy to just three goals on the day.
The Bears and the Bulldogs also met in the finals of the Ivy League Tournament last year. Yale won its third consecutive Ivy League title after Gaudet secured a one-point lead with just three minutes left in the contest that the Elis preserved until the final whistle.
Despite struggling with inconsistency after a huge win over then-No. 4 Villanova, the Bears will enter this Saturday’s contest carrying momentum from back-to-back wins over Princeton and Penn. Brown midfielder George Grell, who was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week at the end of last month, led his team with three goals while goalie Phil Goss showed strength in the net with an impressive 17 saves. The Bulldog offense will have a sizable challenge getting the ball past Goss, who ranks second in the nation averaging 13.56 saves per game, while Yale’s defense will need to keep its focus on leading-scorer Luke McCaleb, who boasts 34 points this season. The Bears have relied on younger players to create offensive momentum this season after losing senior superstars and All-Americans Molloy and long-stick midfielder Larken Kemp.
“Offensively we need to focus on continuing to make the plays that don’t take talent,” midfielder Joe Sessa ’19 said. “If we can, as a unti, make more small plays that don’t necessarily come up on the stat sheet than we did last week, we will get better as a unit and will be successful Saturday.”
One of the biggest battles of the game will take place in the faceoff X between Mackie and Brown midfielder Ted Ottens. Ottens earned second-team All-Ivy recognition last year and finished the 2017 ranked 11th nationally in face-off winning percentage with a .597, just slightly under Mackie’s .603. In order for Yale’s offense to control the ball and execute, Mackie will need to demonstrate the same consistency and ability he has demonstrated all season to help ensure Yale’s success.
The contest against the Bears will begin Saturday at 1 p.m. on Stevenson Field.
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