After suffering a humbling overtime loss to No. 15 Villanova last weekend in its 2019 season opener, the defending national champion Yale men’s lacrosse team looked to bounce back against No. 2 Penn State and its high-powered offense.
On a cloudy Saturday at the revamped Reese Stadium, the No. 6 Bulldogs (1–1, 0–0 Ivy) played host to the Nittany Lions (3–1, 0–0 Big Ten), who came into New Haven looking for a fourth win and extension of their undefeated season. But the Bulldogs, despite a slow start, stayed firmly in the game and recovered to pull off a to-the-wire, one-score win and defeat the visitors 14–13.
“We’re thrilled,’ head coach Andy Shay said. “Top to bottom, defensively and offensively, [Penn State is] pretty good. But we just stuck to the game plan, and thankfully we got a good result.’
The Elis, who dropped five places in last week’s national rankings after the overtime loss to Villanova, opened the day looking shaky and unsure, with a turnover just as play began and the Nittany Lions grabbing the first tally. But specialist TD Ierlan ’20 again dominated on the faceoff and helped stabilize the Bulldog offense. Yale grabbed two consecutive goals and eventually overcame the early deficit to knot the game at 4–4 by the end of the opening period.
In the second quarter, the Bulldogs continued their offensive uptick with help from an improving defensive showing, anchored by goalie Jack Starr ’21. With a bounce from Matt Gaudet ’20, the Elis pulled ahead for the first time but struggled to widen their lead, as Penn State’s defense stepped up to match Yale’s towards the end of the half.
Despite some trouble with penalties, the Bulldog offense continued its march forward and extended their lead to five by early in the fourth quarter. The Nittany Lions battled back, however, overcoming several clutch plays by the Yale defense, and managed to cut the Eli lead to a single tally with just a minute on the clock.
Ierlan delivered another faceoff win, and as time ran out, the Bulldogs walked away with a 14–13 victory in the close, hard-fought encounter.
Yale next hosts Massachusetts at Reese Stadium.