For the 10th consecutive year, the No. 5 Yale men’s lacrosse team clinched a trip to the postseason — this one earned on senior night against Brown.
A week after putting up 20 goals, the Bulldogs (8–2, 4–1 Ivy) hosted Brown (4–7, 2–2) on Saturday and celebrated their 11 seniors in front of a packed Reese Stadium. The Elis — with major contributions from the class of 2019 — thwarted a fast-moving Bruno offense that at times seemed primed for an upset. But Yale ultimately emerged victorious 17–12. Fueled by five goals from attacker Matt Gaudet ’20, the Bulldogs earned a spot in the Ivy League tournament in May to continue their 2019 title defense.
“We’re really just working well together,” Gaudet said. “Our first midfield line has been together for three years now. Our second midfield line, they’re putting the work in at practice and after practice, and I think they’re really meshing well. The quadruple of me, Rooney, Brandau and Jackson Morrill, we’re just finding our spots. We’ve been able to just finish.”
The Elis came into Saturday’s tilt after the program posted its best offensive outing of the 2019 campaign in a win against Dartmouth. Yale’s offensive outburst — aided by tallies from nine different players — marked its first 20-point outing since the Elis defeated Albany in the semifinals of last year’s championship run.
The offensive momentum bled into this weekend’s performance. The Bulldogs started off hot, peppering Brown netminder Phil Goss with five goals coming from midfielders John Daniggelis ’19 and Jack Tigh ’19, as well as from attackers Jackson Morrill ’20, Matt Brandau ’22 and Gaudet.
Six more shots rifled past Goss in the second period of play. Still, Yale possessed just a slim three-goal lead heading into the break. Despite the Elis’ first-half onslaught — which put them on track for another 20-goal game — goalie Jack Starr ’21 stopped just one shot from finding the back of the net, allowing the Bears to hang around.
After Brown sent its ninth ball past the sophomore goaltender, head coach Andy Shay and the coaching staff swapped him for backup Hoyt Crance ’19. Crance, who was the Elis’ starting goalie as a rookie, stepped in net for his first lengthy appearance of the season and immediately made an impact for his team on Senior Day. He pulled out a number of critical stops that became even more important as Yale’s offense slowed down in the second half.
“[Crance is] such a good kid,” Shay said. “He’s worked really hard, and I’ll probably get emotional talking about it. … It’s a storybook for him to be able to do that his Senior Day. We talked about it, it was our pecking order … he’s one of our hardest workers. He’s one of our most vocal guys. He’s a poster child for everything we do. He’s just awesome, and he deserves more than just one day to shine.”
The senior goalie displayed a strong performance down the stretch, proving to be a crucial piece in limiting Brown to just three goals in the second half. Clutch saves from Crance, including a critical stop on a Bears’ man-up opportunity, gave Yale the chance to hold the ball and run down the clock. Goals from midfielder Joseph Sessa ’19 and attacker Thomas Duran ’19 within the final minute of play cemented another Ancient Eight victory for Yale.
“The last couple of years haven’t really bounced my way, but I’m glad I could give something to the team today,” Crance said. “A lot of guys in our class have played for a long time. Being able to go off on Senior Day like this is great. At the end of the day we still have some games to play, and that’s all that matters.”
The Elis will travel to New York to go toe-to-toe with Albany on Friday.
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