In my most recent column on Roxy Barahman’s ’20 game-winning shot against Harvard a few weekends ago, I argued that students should make an effort to attend more sporting events. I told students that if they went to a game, they “might just witness a buzzer-beater.”
Unfortunately, I was right. If you went to last Saturday’s men’s basketball game, Harvard guard Bryce Aiken ripped out your heart with a game-winning buzzer-beater. Despite the disappointment you felt as Aiken’s shot swished through the net, I stand by my original point. The best drama on campus unfolds on the playing fields, and, if you show up, you won’t regret it.
Watching Yale sports offers a combination of community and thrill that has helped me cope with the February blues ever since my first February at Yale. If you want to stave off the Sunday Scaries, go to a Yale sporting event on Saturday. It has worked for me. I grew up an avid sports fan, but admittedly, I went to only an occasional football game or volleyball match during my first semester. However, that changed in February, when a FroCo suggested that I start writing for the News’ sports desk. One of my first assignments was to cover the men’s lacrosse game against Maryland. I went out to Reese Stadium exactly three years and a day ago with my notebook and my tape recorder.
Having never been to a Yale lacrosse game before, I accidentally sat in the middle of the parent’s section. It was one of the best mistakes I’ve ever made. Both teams were ranked in the nation’s top 10, and as a result, the parents were fired up. With the team’s warmup playlist bumping, it felt like a party, and as the game got underway, the parents invited me to join them in cheering on their sons and heckling the referees.
I felt like part of a community. I now had a place to go every Saturday where I could shout, cheer and just be with a thousand other fans. Since Feb. 27, 2016, I’ve missed only a handful of home lacrosse games.
Sports bring communities together, and when I’m surrounded by fellow fans, I never feel alone. The joy that I get from watching Yale lacrosse can be found at any Yale athletics venue, and I’ve never felt it more than I did this past Saturday, when men’s lacrosse, women’s hockey and men’s basketball all played in the most thrilling triple header that I’ve witnessed at Yale. All three Yale home games on Saturday were decided in the final seconds.
Sports allow us to live vicariously through the players on the field, ice or court — to temporarily leave our present anxieties and put our feet in our favorite players’ cleats, skates or shoes. Saturday’s triple header gave us plenty of opportunities to feel the exhilaration of doing this.
First, men’s lacrosse escaped with a 14–13 win over then-No. 2 Penn State. Think a one-goal game is thrilling? Well, it was even crazier than you think. The Nittany Lions trailed by five goals in the fourth quarter and nearly came back. Moreover, Yale midfielder TD Ierlan ’20, the nation’s top faceoff specialist who transferred to Yale from Albany this summer, won over 80 percent of the game’s face-offs.
Then, women’s hockey tied Harvard 2–2 in its season finale. On Senior Day, senior goaltender Kyra O’Brien ’19 made possibly the biggest play of the game, stuffing a Harvard forward on a breakaway to preserve the tie. A senior making the biggest play in her final game? You can’t write a better script than that, even if the game did end in a draw.
Finally, in the nightcap, men’s basketball guard Miye Oni ’20 opened the game by making five of his first six three-point shots, demonstrating why scouts rank him as one of the nation’s top-60 NBA prospects. Although Aiken won the game on a buzzer-beater, the back-and-forth affair was the apogee of sporting experience.
After Barahman’s buzzer-beater in early February, I claimed that “buzzer-beaters, comebacks and heartbreakers are more common than you think.” This past Saturday showed that they happen every weekend. Take these moments in with a rowdy crowd, and you might just escape the February blues.
Matthew Mister | firstname.lastname@example.org