The Yale men’s lacrosse team will look to extend its perfect record in enemy territory for the third consecutive weekend — this time against head coach Andy Shay’s former team, UMass Amherst.
Following Yale’s win over No. 2 Penn State, the No. 1 Bulldogs (2–0, 0–0 Ivy) will travel to Massachusetts to take on the Minutemen (2–2, 0–0 Colonial). Though the Blue and White trail 10–19 historically against UMass, they’ve won the past three matchups, one of which included an NCAA tournament victory two years ago in New Haven. In their previous encounter, the Bulldogs found themselves behind for much of the game. Despite being down 8–3 in the third quarter, the Elis fought hard and clawed out a 12–11 victory in overtime. The game, in home territory for the Bulldogs, was eventually decided with just under a minute left in overtime.
“We think they’re one of the toughest teams in the country,” Shay said. “Last year was an absolute war, and we were lucky to come away with a win… I fully expect another classic New England scrap, it’s gonna be hard.”
Last weekend, Yale marched into a packed Panzer Stadium and pulled off a massive 12–10 win over then-No. 1 Penn State. The win boosted the Bulldogs into first place in the nation, relegating Penn State from its status at the top of the pack. Yale jumped on the board first and never looked back, holding its lead for the entirety of the contest. Faceoff specialist TD Ierlan ’20 won 16 of 26 faceoffs against the Nittany Lions’ Gerard Arceri, a formidable matchup for the Yale senior who finished just below Ierlan for best faceoff percentage in the NCAA last season. Meanwhile nine different Bulldogs found the back of the net including long stick defenseman Chris Fake ’21.
Although Yale came out on top, there were some aspects in which the Bulldogs look to improve upon. Among those were turnovers, of which the Bulldogs had 23 — 11 of which were forced by the Nittany Lions. Furthermore, the Elis took four penalties. Although Penn State only converted on two of those extra man opportunities — a testament to Yale’s defense — the Bulldogs will look to cut down on their errors against UMass.
“Coach Shay and [his] staff have done a terrific job of building a Championship Culture at Yale,” Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni said. “They are always well prepared and compete so hard as a team. Yale will be in the hunt for [the] National Championship again in May.”
UMass lost its first game of the season in a lopsided result, falling 17–4 to No. 16 Army. However, they made up for it the following week with an intense 9–7 victory over then No. 12 Ohio State. In that encounter, attackman Gabriel Procyk picked up his ninth career hat trick and handled the offense while rookie netminder Matt Knote held things down on the other end with 14 saves. Unfortunately their momentum didn’t carry into the Minutemen’s next matchup against Harvard, wherein they lost 10–9 after the Crimson scored a late goal with two minutes left on a man-up advantage.
In their most recent game, against UMass Lowell, the Minutemen claimed an 11–9 victory which saw Procyk find the back of the net five times. He is the leading scorer for UMass with ten goals this season, and stopping him will be critical if the Bulldogs hope to leave Massachusetts on a high note. Knote has also been superb between the pipes throughout the season for the Minutemen, averaging 11 saves per game thus far. Although UMass is not nationally ranked, they have defeated other nationally ranked teams and cut it very close with Yale last year, showing they are not to be taken lightly.
On the Yale side, despite several injuries and illnesses which plagued the program at the start of the season, the Bulldogs appear ready to dominate at Amherst.
Although the Bulldogs jumped up to No. 1 in both major polls following the Penn State victory, they had much to work on this week. Shay and the rest of the squad focused on clearing the ball, hoping to correct those mistakes before this weekend’s tilt.
“We are all very excited about the [Penn State] win, but there are definitely parts of our game we need to work on,” Fake said after last weekend’s victory. “While we were happy with our performance in some aspects of the game, our clearing and stick skills were not close to where they should be and the amount of turnovers we had can’t happen again.”
The Bulldogs will battle it out against the Minutemen at Garber Field with the opening faceoff scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday.
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