Courtesy of Yale Athletics

Over spring break, the No. 14 Yale men’s lacrosse team (4–2, 1–1 Ivy) faced off against two Ivy League rivals, splitting the two games.

Both contests were evenly-matched. On March 19, the Bulldogs lost to No. 4 Cornell (6–1, 1–1) by one goal, 12–13, before defeating No. 2 Princeton (5–2, 1–1) 14–12 on March 26.

The two games marked the beginning of Yale’s Ivy League schedule. The Ivy League promises to be one of the most competitive conferences in the country this year, with Inside Lacrosse rankings including six of the seven teams in the nation’s top 20.

“It’s the young guys having confidence and us old guys trying to give them confidence during the week,” Yale captain Brian Tevlin ’22 said to Inside Lacrosse. “Reassure them that they’re supposed to be here, that they’re not just Average Joes, that they are these studs who are here for a reason and that when they play in our system, anything is possible. It took us a little bit of time to see that in the Cornell game, and the fourth quarter run did a lot more for our mindset than it even did for getting back into the game.”

In that Cornell game, as Tevlin said, the Bulldogs struggled mightily to get started, as they entered the fourth quarter trailing 11–5. The Bulldogs then found their form in the fourth, as they outscored Cornell 7–2.

However, the comeback, fueled by newcomer Leo Johnson ’25 and star Matt Brandau ’23, fell just short of the win.

Cornell’s strong leadership, led by two-time captain John Piatelli, was able to build a big lead in the start of the game and then defend it just well enough to secure the win.

“He’s a guy that, from the day he stepped on this campus, you knew, he was special,” Cornell head coach Connor Buczek said of Piatelli in a podcast interview. “He’s got a unique sensibility to him where he’s not too high, he’s not too low. He’s so poised and composed.” 

Following the loss at Cornell, Yale had to immediately return to practice to prepare for Princeton the following weekend.

The Bulldogs played a better game with Princeton despite its sky-high ranking. The Elis pulled out a 14–12 win behind another clutch Brandau performance. 

Brandau, who is on the Tewaaraton Watch List for the best player in the country, powered the Bulldogs offense with five goals and three assists for the upset victory.

“It was a grind. We knew it was going to be a tough game and we gutted it out. I’m pretty proud of guys today,” head coach Andy Shay said to Yale Athletics. “We are getting great leadership from our older guys which are allowing our younger ones to be contributing players.”

One of the biggest young contributors for the Bulldogs has been starting goalie Jared Paquette ’24, who stood tall in net in both games for his team. 

Paquette posted 18 saves against Cornell, before topping that with an even stronger 19-save outing against Princeton, marking his career high. Paquette has played every minute of every game for the Bulldogs, and is third in the country with 15.20 saves per game.

The challenges will only continue for the Bulldogs, as their next game will be against No. 6 University of Pennsylvania, which will mark three straight Saturdays against top-10 opponents for the Bulldogs.

SPENCER KING