The Yale men’s lacrosse team broke its two-game winning streak as it fell to UMass Amherst in its third straight road contest.
The No. 1 Bulldogs (2–1, 0–0 Ivy) lost to the Minutemen (3–2, 0–0 Colonial) 13–10 this past Saturday on Garber Field in Amherst. Despite pulling off a miraculous 12–11 victory in overtime after overcoming a 6–3 deficit heading into the third during their previous encounter, the Elis could not repeat history this season. UMass jumped out to an early 11–2 advantage by the end of the first half, and Yale’s 8–2 run in the second proved to be too little, too late.
“UMass is a good team,” goalie Jack Starr ’21 said. “Coach Shay worked there before arriving at Yale, and as a result, their culture is similar to ours. They value toughness and attention to detail over talent and ‘flash.’ The coaches emphasized it would be a battle, but for whatever reason we came out flat. We didn’t play like ‘us,’ but they played like us. At halftime, Coach Shay gave us an ultimatum and we began to respond. The game wasn’t pretty, but we’ll watch the film, identify the mistakes and get back to work.”
Yale entered the duel coming off of a hot start, having defeated No. 17 Villanova and then-No. 1 Penn State. Despite claiming the number one ranking in all major national polls, the Bulldogs simply could not overcome the UMass defense.
Faceoff specialist TD Ierlan ’20 started things off with a win at the X — the first of 20 out of 26 on the day. Following a series of turnovers, nearly four minutes later, attackman Thomas Bragg ’22 opened up scoring, but the first half was dominated by the Minutemen. By the end of the first quarter, four different players had scored for UMass, helping Shay’s former team claim an early 5–1 lead.
While attackman Matt Gaudet ’20 got one back in the second frame, the Minutemen continued to put their foot on the throttle, sending Yale into the locker room to dwell on a 11–2 scoreline in favor of UMass.
Though regular starting defenseman Sam Eisenstadt did not make an appearance, the Minuteman defense played with sheer confidence, and their ability to control the Yale offensive line proved essential to their victory.
“Every time a Yale player catches the ball there’s a UMass player one step away from his gloves,” a commentator for Lax Sports Network said.
A determined Blue and White squad came out onto the field after halftime gunning to cut the lead. The Bulldogs found the back of the enemy net four times in a row, with tallies coming from Bragg, Gaudet and midfielder Christian Cropp ’21. By the end of the third quarter, Yale had cut the deficit from nine to five, a comeback which they made last year when they were down 8–3 with just over 25 minutes of play left to go.
Entering the fourth quarter determined to repeat history, Yale opened up scoring once again as attackman Matt Brandau ’22 whirled one by UMass netminder Matt Knote. Shortly thereafter, captain and attackman Jackson Morrill ’20 registered on the board after the Minutemen failed to clear a ground ball. With the scoreline now reading 12–9 with nearly 13 minutes to play, a comeback was in sight.
However, UMass managed to extend the shot clock twice, which led to a key tally by the Minutemen, giving the home team a 13–9 lead with just over seven minutes left. The UMass defense held Yale to a lone goal in those precious last moments, and the Minutemen’s early nine-goal lead proved insurmountable for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs’ own miscues during clears did not aid their efforts. The team was 9–14 on clears and had 25 turnovers, 7 of which were forced by the Minutemen. On extra man opportunities, both teams were 0–3. The Elis showed marginal improvement from their Penn State contest, in which they were 11–22 on clears and had 25 turnovers.
“We work on clearing a great deal,” head coach Andy Shay said entering the matchup. “We watch film and realize guys are in the wrong spots in those moments … We expect more out of them, detail wise, so they’ll respond.”
Given the history between the two programs, the Elis knew the skirmish would be a tough one. Although the defense managed to contain attackman Gabriel Procyk to just two goals, attackman Billy Philpott wove his way through the defense and got the ball by goalie Brody Wilson ’20 four times. Wilson, who made just two saves and allowed 11 goals, was replaced by Starr in the second half.
Starr, the starting netminder for the past two years, stepped in and held down the crease, stopping two thirds of the shots he faced in all thirty minutes he spent between the pipes. On the other end, the UMass netminder turned away 12 shots from the Bulldogs — including five in the last quarter — playing a major role in the Minutemen’s defense of their lead.
Though UMass graduated star goalie Sean Sconone last year, rookie Matt Knote has stepped up and delivered for the Minutemen. On Saturday, Knote made a couple of key saves, including a point blank shot from Brandau at the edge of the crease with under two minutes left. Knote is the first rookie netminder to start since current assistant coach Doc Schneider, who was a four year starter before graduating in 2009.
“[UMass head coach] Cannella has been there a long time, and he’s very similar to coach Shay from a cultural perspective,” former Yale midfielder Joey Sessa ’19 said. “Those kids wanna play for him, and while they might not be the most talented, they’re gonna try and outwork every team they play. They’re definitely one of the toughest teams we played throughout my four years at Yale.”
The Bulldogs will continue their road series in southern California against Michigan next Saturday at 10 p.m. EST.
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