Bulldogs Fall 13-7 in NCAAs
NOTRE DAME, IN – The long winning streak and the great 2012 season came to an end today for the Bulldogs in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against a team with a ton of post-season experience. The No. 4 seed Notre Dame, which had goals from nine different players, ran off strings of four and five straight scores on the way to a 13-7 win over 11th ranked Yale before 1,503 at Arlotta Stadium.
When facing the country's best defensive team and Division I's top goalie, the first goal is huge. Surrendering the first four goals to the Irish was Yale's worst nightmare, especially since the Elis hadn't trailed in a game since April 28 (3 games ago). The 4-0 deficit statistically appeared insurmountable, but you can't figure from paper how much fight there is in the Bulldog.
There were flashes of offensive brilliance from the guys in blue: Deron Dempster scored four goals, Matt Gibson had a goal and four assists and Brandon Mangan hit the net twice, but there were 16 turnovers and some bad decisions that prevented more of this.
The Yale defense also had its share of big moments, like keeping the home team off the scoreboard for most of the second quarter and getting a pair of caused turnovers each from Peter Johnson, captain Michael Pratt and Mark Dobrosky.
The Blue got on the board with consecutive goals at 4:07 and 2:44 of the opening quarter. Dempster one-timed a behind-the-goal feed from Gibson and then Mangan ran around the crease from behind the cage. That cut the lead in half and gave great hope for the Elis.
A great save by Jack Meyer (4 in the game) in the closing seconds of the first frame kept the Blue within two goals and set up another climb from behind. Notre Dame got the next one to go up three, but a pair of Dempster goals assisted by Gibson in the second made it 5-4. However, that was as close as the visitors would come.
The Bulldogs had two opportunities to even things at 5-5 in the closing moments of the half, but Notre Dame goalie John Kemp (12 saves) came up big. Pratt fired a low shot with 17 seconds left that was scooped up by the Irish goalie. Kemp sent a long pass up the field that turned into a Sean Rogers tally with 7.5 seconds left and a 6-4 halftime lead.
That Rogers goal was significant. Not only did it end Yale's two-goal run that cut the margin to one, it seized back the momentum and was the first of five straight Irish scores to put the game out of reach at 10-4.
"It was the one… Everyone knows it," said Yale head coach Andy Shay about the last goal of the half. "We had a shot to tie it and then we are down 6-4 at half. With that defense, it feels like a pretty big hole. Goals you score on them are at a premium."
The Blue fought hard to get shots on goal and cut away at the deficit, but those attempts were mostly hitting Kemp or his defensive mates or going off target. The Gibson to Dempster (behind-the-net to the edge of the crease) combination ended the bleeding for the visitors with 40.6 seconds left in the third, but there was too much ground to make up.
"They [Notre Dame] were great at both ends of the field," said Shay. "They made great plays, and I'm not sure we played our normal game. I don't think our decisions in transition were the ones we normally make. It certainly cost us."
One thing that certainly cost the Fighting Irish was the play of Yale face-off specialist Dylan Levings. The sophomore standout won 14 of 23 battles on the X and snatched a game-high 10 ground balls in a performance typical of his 2012 campaign.
The Bulldogs (11-5) had the advantage in shots (37-23) and ground balls (39-31) but could not survive a balanced attack from the Irish offense that included three goals from Jim Marlatt.
It was appropriate that Yale's senior offensive catalyst found the net for the team's last goal of the year. Gibson scooped up a loose ball (one of his five ground balls), shook off a defender while rolling back to his left hand and fired it past Kemp with four minutes left. It was his 94th career goal and put him one behind his brother, Matt, in sixth place on the school's all-time list.
Gibson, one of 10 seniors who helped Yale win its first Ivy Tournament Championship and gain its first NCAA berth in 20 years, showed why he will likely earn his third straight All-America honor.
"I'm proud of what we accomplished. This one stings, and I know we were not just happy to be here. The senior class absolutely put this program in the national spotlight. I'm immensely grateful and very proud," said Shay.
BULLDOG BITES: The Bulldogs wore their blue road uniforms with white numbers; ND had bright gold tops with white shorts… Legendary Texas oil and gas executive T. Boone Pickens was in the stands rooting for his grandson's (Andrew Cordia, Yale junior) team… The team drove to Chicago after the game to stay in an airport hotel before flying back to New York on Monday morning… Former Yale assistant coach Jamie Munro (1991-98), who was on the staff when the Elis played in their last NCAA game in 1992, was the color commentator for the ESPN broadcast… The strangest stat of the day was the NCAA announced attendance (1,503), which had a few folks in the press box scratching their heads. The venue that lists a capacity of 4,000, appeared to be at least 75 or 80 percent full.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director