No. 13 Yale Beats No. 19 St. John's
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Andy Shay, Yale's Ryan & Forst Family Head Coach, could not have asked for much more on an opening day at the friendly confines of Reese Stadium. His 11th season in New Haven was greated with balanced scoring, a dozen caused turnovers from a variety of players and a 10-6 win over No. 19 St. John's before 1,290 fans. It was the perfect way for the No. 13 ranked Bulldogs to begin the season.
The two-time defending Ivy Tournament Champions got goals from eight different players including two each from Brandon Mangan and Michael Bonacci. The Elis trailed early on and then went on a run that kept them in the lead the rest of the way.
"I thought that the defense played great. We knew it was a huge challenge playing those guys, and certain individuals stepped up," said Shay. "And the whole team stepped up."
The first Yale goal of the 2014 season came from Jeff Cimbalista at 10:18 of the first quarter, a quick response to St. John's taking a 1-0 lead. After a statistically equal opening frame, the Elis outshot the Red Storm 14-7 in the second and saw goals from Colin Flaherty, Mangan, Conrad Oberbeck and Bonacci before taking a 5-3 lead into halftime.
The defining moment of the second half came with Yale protecting a 7-4 lead late in the third. Sean Shakespeare checked a Red Storm attackman to cause a turnover that Michael Quinn scooped up. The Bulldog defenseman sprinted up field and saw LSM Jimmy Craft open just over mid field. Craft, the eighth different Yale player to score, angled in toward the goal and looked both ways for someone to pass to. He didn't see anyone open so he fired a low shot into the net from 20 yards out.
"It was awesome," said Shay of the play. "He [Craft] loves to run, and he when he gets off his leash in the offensive end, he'll look to shoot, so I was very happy for him."
Craft and Quinn, who had a defensive unit-high five ground balls, led a Yale defense that prevented a high-scoring Red Storm offense from getting comfortable all day. They each had three caused turnovers, while freshman Christopher Keating had a pair.
"We played awesome head to toe, offense to defense," said Craft. "I think a lot of people doubted our defense going in, and holding this unit to six goals is something that should build confidence for our entire team."
The Bulldogs have been able to control possession time the last few years because one of the premier face-off specialists in the NCAA. Dylan Levings, back for his senior campaign, was at it again on opening day, winning 13 of 19 face-offs (9 GBs) and helping Yale prevent any scoring runs by the visitors.
The home team, coming off a 12-5 season and its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance, had a 35-29 advantage in shots. Sixteen of the 29 Red Storm shots were on target and Eli junior goalie Eric Natale stopped 10, including a number of quality saves, to earn the win in net.
"It was a great way to get out of here with the W," said Mangan. "They're a great offense and everything. We knew it was going to be a struggle, but to hold them to six goals is awesome. The defense played great, a really impressive showing by them."
The Elis next are at Bryant, a squad that is coming off an upset of nationally ranked Bucknell.
"We are just kind of coming out everyday looking to get better as a team. We're not really worried about playing other teams. We're just looking to improve ourselves," said Natale.
The Bulldogs are now 8-1 against St. John's… Colin Flaherty's brother, Donal, played for St. John's today… The Yale-Harvard game at Reese Stadium on April 26 has been moved to 1:30 p.m. and will air live on Fox College Sports TV (DirecTV 608).
filed by steve conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
Michael Bonacci image taken by Ted Keating