Bouncing back is something that the 2019 Yale men’s lacrosse team is used to — it entered a six-game winning streak after falling to Villanova on opening day. Now, after a tough triple overtime loss to Penn last weekend, the Elis will seek another tally in the win column against a team they’ve defeated in nine straight meetings.
The No. 5 Elis (6–2, 2–1 Ivy), who fell to the sixth-ranked Quakers despite Yale’s stronghold on offensive chances, will return to Reese Stadium to host Dartmouth (2–6, 0–2) after several weeks of challenges from ranked foes. Coming off the loss, the Bulldogs will look to return to fundamentals and re-establish themselves on the attack after struggling to finish on scoring opportunities last week. As the team approaches its midpoint of conference competition, it will look to ensure its second-place seating behind Penn, who owns the Ancient Eight’s lone perfect league record.
“This week we’ve been implementing a little bit of a game plan for the Dartmouth game but also putting a lot of emphasis on getting back to what makes Yale lacrosse great,” defender Chris Fake ’21 said. “The Penn game was a wake up call that we were losing what makes Yale lacrosse what is it; we lost our bite, our edge.”
Last week, the Elis’ normally potent offense — which scored at least 15 goals a game in the three weeks prior — fell short against Penn goalie Reed Junkin. Although the Quakers initially trailed, Junkin kept his team in contention as he made stop after stop to thwart any hopes of an Eli comeback. In overtime, Yale fired off several promising shots but could not sneak the game winner past Junkin.
The Bulldogs will face similarly solid netminding this week. Junkin, who pulled out 22 stops last week, ranks ninth in the nation in saves per game while Dartmouth’s Daniel Hincks is not far behind, sitting at 20th.
“[Dartmouth’s] best player is their goalie,” head coach Andy Shay said. “He’s excellent. They’ve got a lot of good young players that are playing for them and a couple of established offensive guys. I think the big key is getting to the goalie, who’s been incredible in some of the games this year. We’ve got to shoot good shots.”
With Dartmouth’s offense ranking last in the Ivy League, Hincks will be tasked with keeping the contest close for the Big Green, much like Junkin did last weekend after collecting an impressive 22 saves. Yale will look to finish the opportunities they create by varying their shots in efforts to slot them past Hincks.
Last week, normally on-target shooters such as attacker Matt Gaudet ’20 and midfielder Jack Tigh ’19 found themselves getting opportunities on cage but converted at far lower rates than usual as the Elis outshot their opponent 66–47. In previous weeks, Yale has benefited from its talented roster with a wide array of potential scorers and will look to flex its offensive muscle again this week.
“We are trying to carry a lot of confidence in our shooting into this game,” attacker Matt Brandau ’22 said. “So we are more inclined to play loosely and shoot the right shot for every situation as opposed to being scripted in our shooting.
Dartmouth will hit the road for the second straight time after coming off a 15–5 blowout loss to No. 10 Cornell last week. The Bulldogs faced the Big Red on March 16, downing them 16–11 in a win aided by a breakout performance from the rookie Brandau, who notched a double hat trick and two assists, in addition to a five-goal day by Gaudet.
In the last meeting between the two sides, the Elis demolished Dartmouth 17–7 in a contest that saw Yale explode out of the gates, pulling ahead 4–0 and never looking back. The junior attack duo of Gaudet and Jackson Morrill ’20 dropped 12 points in the victory.
The Big Green, who have dropped 25 straight conference games, have struggled all season. While Dartmouth owns a pair of low-scoring wins against Binghamton and Wagner, it registered nine goals or less in its six other contests.
The opening face-off is scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m. at Reese Stadium, which will also be Alumni Day.
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