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The No. 8 Yale men’s lacrosse team (5–2, 2–1 Ivy) defeated No. 4 University of Pennsylvania (4–3, 1–2 Ivy) 12–11 in an overtime thriller on Saturday afternoon at Reese Stadium.

The Bulldogs hope that the win will propel them up the Inside Lacrosse national rankings, in which they currently sit in eighth. The polls currently have the Elis placed behind No. 4 Penn, as well as No. 6 Princeton, who the Bulldogs defeated last weekend, and No. 7 Cornell, who the team lost to by one goal.

The afternoon started on a celebratory note, as the game marked the men’s portion of Tsai Lacrosse Field House Dedication Day, and the Yale women’s lacrosse team defeated Brown 15–13. However, with Joe Tsai in attendance as the first whistle blew, the packed Reese Stadium, with an attendance of 1,382, took on a much more anxious feeling.

The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair as the teams wrestled for control. Penn opened the scoring to take the first lead of the game, but then the Bulldogs’ youth flexed its muscle to even the game. 

“We had five guys out there that are technically first years, in the first couple rotations,” head coach Andy Shay said. “At this point it’s immaterial … they’re Yale lacrosse players so we expect them to make the right play, and they end up doing it.”

The young Bulldogs dominated the offense in the first quarter, as four of the six starting midfielders and attackmen were first years. Chris Lyons ’25 scored the first goal for the Bulldogs to tie the game before Brad Sharp ’25 scored another to put the Bulldogs up 2–1. 

The opening quarter ended with the Bulldogs up 4–3 after sharpshooter Thomas Bragg ’23 scored on the man-up. Matt Brandau ’23 then joined in to send the Elis into the second quarter with a one goal lead. 

The second quarter continued the see-sawing of the first, as neither team was able to gain a lead of more than one goal. The game seemed set to enter the second half knotted at six after Leo Johnson ’25 and Max Krevsky ’25 joined the first-year scoring party. 

However, to the chagrin of Penn head coach Mike Murphy, the Bulldogs did end up leading at the half. 

With Penn pushing to take the lead, Yale goalie Jared Paquette ’24 made a big save, one of his 12 on the day, before clearing the ball quickly upfield to put Yale on the break with less than 10 seconds to go in the half. The ball found Brandau, who after splitting a double team found a wide open Lyons, who buried his second of the afternoon with just one second left in a first half that saw six lead changes.

“We were resilient about it,” Murphy said about the last second goal. “We didn’t spend too much time talking about it [in the locker room] except for the fact that it was somebody trying to make a play at the offensive end that wasn’t really there and then we get back in the other direction and somebody’s trying to make a play on the defensive end that wasn’t really there. We were kinda going off the menu a little bit and doing things that we don’t normally do.”

Despite the halftime break and a Penn goal to open the half, the third quarter would prove to be the strongest for the Bulldogs. Yale was finally able to build the first multi-goal lead of the game when Patrick Hackler ’24 scored to make it 8–7 before Johnson scored again just 13 seconds later to put the Bulldogs up two.

The Bulldogs then got a third goal, just 56 seconds later, to go up three goals, before holding an 11–9 lead with under a minute left in the third quarter.

Right as the Bulldogs appeared ready to pull away and perhaps let off the gas, defensive stalwart Chris Fake ’22, who had a big day with four caused turnovers and four groundballs, set the tone for the fourth quarter to come. Following a Yale turnover, Penn had a fast break opportunity as the quarter was expiring, but Fake, with a full head of steam, put an end to it by tracking back and ending the quarter with a ferocious hit that sent the Yale sideline into a frenzy.

Both teams nearly ground the fourth quarter to a stop as the game took on a new physicality with the Bulldogs hemmed in their own half on defense for much of the quarter. The fourth quarter saw the Bulldogs’ offense dry up, as the team was unable to score at all.

The Yale defense fought valiantly to hold on as it faced an onslaught from the Penn offense, but was unable to stop the opposition from scoring two goals, forcing overtime.

The game reminded many of the last matchup between the two teams, a Yale win in a NCAA quarterfinal overtime thriller that ended in a Jack Tigh ’19 game winner.

“We were lucky to have the ball two times in overtime,” Tigh said to the News in 2019 after the quarterfinal matchup. “The second time I said ‘here’s our chance, we have to capitalize right now.’ I just tried to give [the team] mental confidence and try to give myself mental confidence because it could have been the last shot.”

Luckily for the Bulldogs, it wouldn’t take two chances for them to score this weekend. The Elis were the only team to possess the ball in overtime as Nicholas Ramsey ’24, who took every faceoff for the Bulldogs and went 14–25, won the overtime draw and gave Yale the ball. 

In a game that showcased the strong Yale rookie class, it was only fitting that after getting a short-stick midfielder to switch onto him, first-year Lyons shot a hard bounce shot past the Penn goalie, completing his hat trick and giving Yale its second overtime win of the year.

After the celebration, the Bulldogs will head right back to work, as a game against No. 14 Boston University on Tuesday will likely be no easier, despite a break from the hyper-competitive Ivy League.

Each of the past three meetings between Yale and Penn have gone to overtime, with Yale winning the last two.

SPENCER KING