Douglass Nets 3 as Yale Erases 3-Goal Deficit
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Freshman defenseman Phil Gross scooped up the loose ball 25 feet from his own goal and flung it to the other end of the field as the final seconds ticked off the clock. The No. 13 Yale men's lacrosse team then celebrated a share of the Ivy League title, qualifying for the league's post-season tournament and a 9-8 victory over No. 20 Harvard before 1,113 at Reese Stadium.
Gross, who helped the Bulldog defense limit the visitors to one goal in the fourth quarter, was able to get the ground ball because classmate Michael McCormack (game-best six ground balls) whacked the ball out of a Crimson's possession with Yale protecting the one-goal lead.
That typified the effort the Eli defense put forth to allow the home team to erase a 6-3, third-quarter deficit and score four of the game's last five goals in a thrilling Ivy League rivalry contest in front of Reese's largest crowd in recent years.
Yale, which was part of the Ivy's first-ever four-way tie for first place, is the No. 3 seed in the league tournament and will face second-seeded Princeton at Ithaca on May 7. The other semifinal pits No. 1 Cornell against No. 4 Brown. The winners play on May 9 for the automatic NCAA Tournament berth.
Brian Douglass, who had the fourth-quarter equalizer and winner, finished with three goals and pushed his season total to a team-high 32. The junior attackman took over after Jeff Cohen (game-high four goals) hit the net at 10:01 of the fourth to give Harvard an 8-7 lead.
“We wanted this one very badly for our seniors. They have been through a lot and we wanted to give them a gift on senior day,” said Douglass. “We had a healthy amount of nervousness before the game, and it was enough to keep us fighting the entire game.”
But Douglass would not have tied the game at 8:35 if not for the defensive play of the game from sophomore midfielder Mark Dobrosky, whose dive and underhand check knocked the ball from a Harvard player to a Yale teammate. Before you could figure out what happened, Colin Still was running down the field and feeding Douglass for a relatively easy tally.
“To play that much defense in the first half and still get that effort in the second was amazing,” said Yale head coach Andy Shay. “We found energy in the second half. We grinded it out the entire game on defense.”
Matt Fuchs, one of six seniors playing their last game at Reese, finished his home career in fine fashion with two goals and four points. His final point was the biggest one. He saw Douglass crossing in front of the crease and put a perfect pass on his stick. Douglass turned, in motion, and flipped a 15-footer through Harry Krieger's (7 saves) legs with 5:48 left for the goal that turned into the winner.
Yale called a timeout with 3:26 left and then turned up the defense a notch more. Harvard proceeded to fire five of its game-high 37 shots over the last 100 seconds. Three were wide and two were blocked by Bulldogs. The last came from Kevin Vaughan (4 assists) with 18 ticks left and it bounced off a Yale stick.
Senior Max Rodman had another big day in the faceoff circle for the Bulldogs. He won 14 of 21 while helping the Blue to a 29-23 ground ball advantage.
The Elis (10-3, 4-2 Ivy) got the first two goals (Fuchs, Patrick Coleman) of the game, took a 2-1 lead into the first break and were feeling pretty good about their play despite being outshot and not having the ball nearly as much as the visitors.
They weren't feeling so well when Harvard (6-6, 2-4) tallied six of the next seven goals and seemingly took control of the contest. However, the Bulldogs did not get flustered.
“I told the guys during halftime not to come on the field if they were not going to give it their all in the second half,” said Yale captain Brendan Gibson. “It worked, you see how we played.”
That's not all the inspirational leader said during the intermission.
“Gibby (Brendan Gibson) said he didn't want this to be the last half of lacrosse in his college career,” said Yale goalie Johnathan Falcone (5 saves). “We just poured our hearts out for the seniors.”
Twenty-three of the game's first 31 shots came off Harvard sticks and possession time seemed like three-to-one at that point. Add to that a three-goal deficit, and Yale's post-season clincher was even more impressive.
“We played a full game of defense in the first 30 minutes. It was an unbelievable win,” said Shay, who was hugged by more people on the field after the game than the average groom at a wedding.
The Elis could have packed it in and patted each other on the back for a nice season when they were down three. Now they are heading to their first post-season game since 1992, the last time Yale went to the NCAA Tournament.
“We have had the mantra 'so what, let's get on to the next play.'” We focused on the things we could change in the game,” said Douglass.
Video Highlights by Sam Dorward '13, Yale Sports