NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Saturday, the Yale men's lacrosse team improved to 3-4 (1-2 Ivy) with a 10-9 victory against Penn at Reese Stadium. The story of the day was junior Deron Dempster, who had five goals in his return to the field after missing three games. The most important goal of the game was his fifth, which came with 12 seconds left and the score knotted at 9-9.
Penn (1-6, 0-3 Ivy) had possession for most of the last three minutes of regulation time, and the Quakers patiently passed the ball around the attack area as they tried to run down the clock before taking a final shot. With 30 seconds left, sophomore goalie Jack Meyer saved a Penn shot. Junior defenseman Peter Johnson was open at midfield, and after receiving the outlet pass from Meyer he quickly moved the ball to Dempster. With 12 seconds left, Dempster fired the shot home from just outside the crease to put Yale on top 10-9, which would prove to be the final margin.
Said Dempster about his big game, "It just clicked today."
Three of Dempster's other four goals were assisted by senior Matt Gibson, who added a goal of his own to total four points on the day.
The pair got going at the end of the first quarter. After sophomore Brandon Mangan and senior Greg Mahony scored goals in the first five minutes, Penn pulled even at 2-2 behind scores from Ryan Parietti and Tim Schwalje. Dempster's first goal came off a nice give-and-go with Gibson, as Dempster dumped off a pass to Gibson behind the goal and then lost his defender, spinning around to the left side of the crease to receive the pass from Gibson before hammering home the shot to give Yale back the lead. Shortly after a goal from Dempster was disallowed due to his being inside the crease, he combined with Gibson again to put Yale on top 4-2.
Parietti scored his second goal for Penn to put the score at 4-3 with nine minutes left in the first half, and then neither team was able to get any offense going for the next seven minutes. However, with two minutes left in the half, Yale caught fire and scored three goals in less than 40 seconds of game time. Freshman Conrad Oberbeck assisted on a goal by Gibson to kick things off, and then Dempster scored his third goal off an assist from freshman Shane Thornton 30 seconds later. Finally, after sophomore Dylan Levings won the faceoff, senior captain Michael Pratt streaked down the field with the ball and scored unassisted to give Yale a 7-3 lead heading into halftime.
The score could have been even further in Yale's favor if the team had been able to avoid mistakes. Two of Penn's three goals came off Yale turnovers that resulted in breakaways for the Quakers.
Pratt agreed, noting the game was a sloppy one for the Bulldogs, but pointing out also that "when you're not playing well, and you're playing sloppy, you can make up for it with hustle, and that's what we did."
In the second half, that hustle was evident as Yale battled hard despite not catching many breaks. The Bulldogs dominated statistically in the hustle-oriented categories, winning 17 of 23 face-offs behind a tremendous game from Levings, and also collecting 28 groundballs compared to Penn's 19. However, Penn elevated its play in the second half to creep back in to the game. Schwalje had three goals, Dan Savage had two, and John Conneely also scored for the Quakers. On the Yale side, Gibson found Dempster for the third time late in the third, and Mahony had his second score for the Bulldogs right after Penn evened the score at 8-8, ripping a shot from 10 yards out. However, with less than six minutes to play, Schwalje tied the game at nine with his fourth score.
With the game tied at 9-9, the atmosphere at Reese Stadium was electric. The teams traded missed shots for two minutes, but Penn grabbed possession with three left to play. Oberbeck was able to slow down a breakaway as he dove to poke the ball away from Penn, and from there it was all about defensive effort and hustle for the Bulldogs, as Meyer's final save (he had nine on the day, good for a .500 save percentage) set up the game-winning goal from Dempster.
Coach Andy Shay wasn't happy about his team's 23 turnovers, but nevertheless the team's first Ivy League win is nothing to complain about.
"It was ugly," said Shay, "but we'll take it."
Yale will be back in action on Tuesday, when the team will travel to face Providence.
Report by Calvin Bohn '14, Yale Sports Publicity
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