In front of an overflowing Reese Stadium, the No. 5 Yale men’s lacrosse team delivered a 14–6 beatdown of No. 2 Albany in a dominant performance that establishes its elite credentials.
The Bulldogs (11–2, 5–0) and the Great Danes (11–2, 4–1) met in a rematch of last year’s 13–12 thriller in one of the premier college lacrosse clashes of the season. Although Albany had won three of the last four matchups with Yale, the Elis jumped out to a 3–0 lead and never looked back, dominating every aspect of the game and holding the prolific Great Danes to just six goals.
“You get a couple thousand people here and there’s standing room only lined up around the field and it’s absolutely incredible,” captain and attacker Ben Reeves ’18 said. “It felt like a late-May lacrosse game … We’re playing well now, but we just have to get better every single step of the way.”
Midfielder John Daniggelis ’19 opened up the scoring for the Elis just a minute and a half into the contest when he blew past his defender and ripped one into the back of the cage. Minutes later, midfielder Lucas Cotler ’20 and Reeves etched their names onto the scoring sheet with a pair of unassisted tallies to increase the early Yale lead to 3–0.
With just under eight minutes left in the first frame, the Great Danes managed to find their way onto the scoreboard after superstar midfielder Connor Fields assisted on Jakob Patterson’s 24th goal of the season. Moments after his early assist, Fields fell to the ground while guarded by Yale defender Chris Fake ’21 as Fields’ injured medial collateral ligament flared up, an ailment that sidelined him for the remainder of the contest. To close out the quarter, Reeves found attacker Matt Gaudet ’20, who finished past Albany’s standout netminder JD Colarusso to establish a 4–1 Yale lead heading into the second.
Despite missing leading scorer Fields, Albany came out of the gates with a spark as a goal from attacker Davis Diamond cut the deficit to two. Its momentum did not last for long, however, as the Bulldogs found themselves up two men after a pair of Albany penalties two minutes later. Cotler capitalized on the player-advantage with an unassisted notch, and Reeves took matters into his own hands with unassisted goal coming with just over seven minutes left in the first half.
Refusing to lie down, the Great Danes took advantage of a quick counterattack off a save to charge down the field and add a tally of their own with a little over five minutes left in the half, cutting the Eli lead to three. Another face-off win from midfielder Conor Mackie ’18 allowed attacker Jackson Morrill ’20 to find the back of the net and hand the Elis a 7–3 advantage before halftime.
“We wanted to be quick on the initial whistle and get a piece of the ball, lock it up and have everybody be involved,” Mackie said. “We wanted to really rely on our fundamentals at the dot and really make it a three on three battle out there. We still left a little bit on the table so we gotta go back and watch the film, but it was a good effort all around.”
Mackie played perhaps the best game of his college career. The midfielder not only held his own against the nation’s best face-off player, TD Ierlan, who entered the match winning 84 percent of his battles, but dominated Ierlan in the X. Mackie won 13 of 21 face-offs for the Bulldogs, giving his teammates ample opportunity to find their offensive rhythm.
The Great Danes emerged rejuvenated from the locker room after halftime and clawed their way back into the game. Midfielders Josh Egan and Sean Eccles scored back to back to bring Albany within two goals early in the third quarter before the Bulldogs stepped their game up a gear and buried the Great Danes.
“It was a little sloppy there in the start of the third quarter and that’s what’s going to happen,” head coach Andy Shay said. “They’re going to come out and play as hard as they can and our guys were able to withstand the rush a little bit and kinda work back into it. I think we fouled a couple of times, we failed to clear it maybe … We took a stupid shot in transition, but then we settled in and continued grinding and the whole game was really small plays that kind of helped us out and worked to our favor.”
Highlighted by a superb performance from Fake, who established his defensive presence by shutting out Albany’s leading-scorer Tehoka Nanticoke, the Yale defense pestered Albany all day. After weathering the surge, the Bulldogs did not allow another goal until midway through the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, the Eli offense — which outshot the Great Danes 49–29 — netted six unanswered-goals in that span.
Daniggelis, Cotler and Gaudet all recorded unassisted tallies before Reeves closed out the frame with a last-second goal on an Albany turnover caused by defender Chris Keating ’18. The Bulldogs never showed complacency even toward the final minutes of the game, as midfielder Jason Alessi ’18, Gaudet and Tigh all notched late-goals to cement Yale’s final 14–6 advantage.
The final score reflected the Elis’ dominance, a result that seemed unlikely at the opening face-off. The win gives the Bulldogs their first victory over a team in the top-20 at game time and provided a statement result after a pair of overtime defeats against ranked opponents Villanova and Bucknell. With only one game remaining before the league tournament, Yale will look to ride its momentum into the postseason.
The Elis will take to the field at Reese Stadium one more time as they host rival Harvard in the final game of the 2018 regular season.
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