Yale Athletics

The fifth-ranked Yale men’s lacrosse team (1–0, 0–0 Ivy) began their 2023 season on a strong note with a 20–14 win over Villanova (1–1, 0–0 Big East) on Sunday.

The story of the game for the Bulldogs was attackman Chris Lyons ’25, who posted a career day with a triple hat trick. His nine goals were the most by a sophomore in Yale history and were the second most all-time.

“It feels really awesome to get a win in our opening game of the season against a talented Villanova team,” goalie Jared Paquette ’24 said. “Our defense as a whole did a great job giving up saveable shots which made my job much easier.” 


The game proved to be a shootout, with the Bulldogs reaching the 20-goal mark in their first game of the year, a feat they only accomplished three times last season.

The high-flying attack that peppered the Villanova goal with 51 shots was led by the same starting trio of attackmen the Bulldogs played last year, and the chemistry was evident.

Matt Brandau ’24 is the veteran presence up front. His fellow attackmen Lyons and Leo Johnson ’25 both played massive roles as rookies on the team last season, but have their sights set even higher this season and have put in the work to make it happen.

“[The fall preseason] gave Leo Johnson and Chris Lyons a real chance to grow up and be quarterbacks of the offense without me,” Brandau said to Inside Lacrosse of the fall season the two had together while he took a leave of absence. “A lot of guys had a lot of growing up this fall and hopefully that translates to maturity on the field.”

That maturity was evident on Sunday, with Lyons’ star nine-goal performance and Johnson adding two goals and four assists. Brandau, for his part, added four goals and three assists after posting 99 points last year. 

While Brandau is the more established threat, Lyons’ performance will almost surely cause future opponents to gameplan for him more carefully. 

His record-breaking performance earned him accolades throughout the nation, as he was named Player of the Week by the Ivy League and USA Lacrosse Magazine.

While Lyons provided much of the offensive spark, Paquette locked down the defensive end with 18 saves and only allowed four second-half goals. 

 “It was nice to get a win against a strong opponent,” head coach Andy Shay said to Yale Athletics. “I thought we settled in defensively in the second half and that was the difference. Credit to Villanova, it was a hard fought game.”

The Bulldogs will play their first home game of the season against Penn State this Saturday at noon at Reese Stadium.

Spencer King is an Editor for the Sports desk. He has covered the Yale football and women's ice hockey teams. He has also previously covered the Yale men's lacrosse team and most things Bulldogs sports. Spencer is a junior in Davenport College and is majoring in Political Science.