Captain Scores Rare Goal
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Defenseman Jimmy Craft took a short pass from his goalie in front of his own restraining line, noticed opposing goalie Matt Poillon drifting from his net and flung it three quarters the length of the field early in the fourth quarter. The ball sailed in the air all the way into the open net just missing the outstretched stick of the goalie as he dove across the goal line. Craft's score, which brought on a sideline celebration reserved for championship games, gave Yale a 9-1 lead and was the play that absolutely put away Lehigh in a battle of ranked teams at Reese Stadium.
The No. 17 Bulldogs (3-1), led by a blanketing defense, pounded No. 15 Lehigh 10-2 in a crucial non-league men's lacrosse contest for both sides. The Mountain Hawks (5-2) were held to just three shots on target on 17 attempts despite being competitive in almost every statistical category other than a game-high 21 turnovers.
"We knew that they were really aggressive in the ride and they were going into a 10-man ride, which would bring the goalie out of the net," said Craft about his goal, which was No. 8 on ESPN's Top 10 list. "We practiced it all week. It just gave us an open look at the goal, and figured I'd shoot it."
Lehigh, coming off a nine-goal effort in victory over Bucknell, was not comfortable with a very inhospitable host. Yale did not allow the Lehigh offense any space and punished every player with a ball on his stick near a potential scoring location.
"This was just a great team effort," said Craft, the Yale captain. "Coach Baxter did a great job with one day getting us ready to play these guys. Saturday (loss to Fairfield) was a setback for us, so today we just went back to our guns: process, communicated and everybody was on the same page, talking all day. It was a good stepping-stone for us."
Meanwhile, the Eli offense was clicking. Senior Brandon Mangan scored twice and had four points, rookie midfielder Eric Scott contributed a pair of goals and three points and junior Colin Flaherty hit the net two times as the Bulldogs took 39 shots and never trailed.
"We just played unselfish, got out there right away got the pace going," said Mangan. "They were predicted to have one of the best defenses in the country, but we didn't let that stop us, we just played our game instead of letting them dictate the tempo."
The home team didn't dominate the X tonight, but Dylan Levings still made some great plays. One of his efforts was the highlight of the first half and sent the Blue into halftime with a commanding 5-1 advantage.
The senior won the face-off and the ground ball, raced toward the cage and got hit by a Lehigh defenseman about eight feet from the net. Instead of bouncing back with the blow, Levings spun with the force of the hit and went completely around before firing into the upper corner of the net. It was an amazing example of athleticism and balance, not to mention determination.
"I'm very proud of the performance. I think the guys had a sour taste in their mouth after the Fairfield game, and they wanted to get back out there against somebody," said Andy Shay, The Ryan & Forst Family Head Coach.
The Bulldogs begin play in the Ivy League this Saturday with a 1 p.m. game at Cornell that can be seen live on the Ivy League Digital Network.
Watch Jimmy Craft's Goal:
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director