BULLDOGS BEAT PENN 7-6 IN SEMIFINAL
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Ben Reeves fired a shot from 15 yards out through a heavy rain that found the top of the net with 3:43 left to give his team the final lead, and the Yale defense held on for a 7-6 win over Penn in the Ivy League Tournament Semifinal at Stevenson-Pincince Field.
Reeves' third goal of the game, which came with an extra man, moved the No. 6 Bulldogs (12-2) into Sunday's noon championship game (ESPNU) against the winner of tonight's Brown-Harvard game. This is the second straight year that the Elis have gone to the finals, and they now have an opportunity to win their third tournament in the past four years.
"There was nothing going for the first 40 seconds of the extra man, and then nobody came out to play me," said Reeves, the first-team All-Ivy pick. "I had a seam and just let it go. I knew I was pretty far out, but I saw it go in out of the corner of my eye."
The Elis, looking for a second straight Ivy Tournament title and a home game in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, needed a big play from their defense to secure the victory over the Quakers.
After a Quaker shot sailed over the net with 17 seconds left, midfielders Mark Glicini and Tyler Warner knocked down Penn's Kevin McGeary with eight seconds left. Reilly Naton fired the ball to the other end of the field to run out the clock.
After the Quakers won the opening face-off, the Yale defense caused a quick turnover after two early shots. Christopher Keating then caused another turnover on Penn's next possession, and the Bulldogs' offense was able to set up for the first time. Eric Scott held the ball at the point possession, then made a quick run to the right. The junior then turned back to the middle as a pick from Michael Keasey gave him open space. He fired a shot from 10 yards out, and it bounced past goalie Reed Junkin for the first goal of the game.
Penn tied the game on their next possession, but the defense held their ground as the Quakers looked to take their first lead of the game. A successful clearing attempt gave the Elis a second chance to set up their offense. Ben Reeves held possession behind the net, with his defender hung at the goal-line. He then circled around, and after his defender pushed back, rolled inside and finished the open look on net. His 36th goal of the season, a Yale sophomore record, gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead with seven minutes gone.
As the rain began to pour down in Providence, the two teams traded empty possessions for the rest of the quarter. Yale led Penn in shots, with a 10-9 advantage after one frame. The rain did not seem to affect the Bulldogs, as they had committed only one turnover, and were 100% effective on the clear.
Jonathan Reese won his second face-off of the game to open the second quarter, but a Reeves shot was blocked in front of the net. Penn earned a good look on their next offensive possession, but Hoyt Crance crouched down to make a save between his legs, and the Bulldogs eventually regained possession. Michael Keasey fired a rocket from the perimeter that deflected off the crossbar, but after a turnover the Quakers scored two quick goals to take their first lead of the game.
Another face-off win gave the Bulldogs the opportunity to tie the game. After Jack Tigh prevented a turnover in the corner, the ball was given to Jeff Cimbalista. The junior, on the left side of the zone, then swept around the perimeter, sprinting 20 yards across the face of goal. While on the run, he launched a shot from his right side, and it sailed into the top right corner of the net to pull the Bulldogs level at three.
After two saves by Junkin prevented the Elis from regaining the lead, the defense was nearly caught down a man in transition. After making substitutions, the Bulldogs recovered, and settled down on defense. A Penn attackman swing around towards the face of goal from behind the net, but his shot was stuffed by Crance, giving possession back to Yale. After a timeout, Reeves held the ball in the right side of the zone. He made a roll dodge to create space as he ran towards the middle of the zone, and finished to the left side of Junkin, giving the Bulldogs a 4-3 lead.
A push from behind by Penn gave Yale their first man-up opportunity of the game. After the initial shot went wide of goal, Jack Tigh held possession behind the net after backing up the shot. He waited patiently for an open look, and threaded a pass to Cimbalista, who was positioned in front of the net. The junior then finished directly from the pass to complete the one-timer. With less than three minutes remaining in the half, Cimbalista's second goal of the game gave Yale their first two-goal lead of the game. The 5-3 lead carried all the way to the halftime break.
Penn scored on the first full possession of the second half, ending the 13-minute stretch in which the Bulldogs' defense held them scoreless. The Quakers added another goal a few possessions later, and with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, the game was tied at five.
On a Yale offensive possession later in the quarter, Joseph Sessa held the ball behind the net. The freshman was offered a pick by a teammate, but instead elected to wrap around the net, losing his defender in the process. He then finished past the legs of Junkin to regain the lead for Yale, notching his fifth goal of the season. Sessa's goal gave the Bulldogs a 6-5 lead which carried to the end of the third quarter.
The Bulldogs defense held strong early in the fourth quarter as the Quakers put on the offensive pressure but Penn score on an EMO to tie the game for the fifth time. With six minutes remaining, Penn had another EMO with a chance to take the lead. A Quaker attackman had a clear look on net in front of goal, but his point-blank shot was saved by Crance, who threw his body in front of the shot to keep game level.
A slash on the other end of the field gave Yale a one-minute EMO of their own with less than five minutes remaining. Reeves was given the ball on the right side of the perimeter, and realized he had a second before the defender could catch up to him. He took the opportunity, and fired a rocket from 15 yards out. It flew past Junkin, and the Bulldogs their second man-up opportunity of the game to take a 7-6 lead.
The Quakers were given one last opportunity to tie the game, as they had 37 seconds to cross the field and score. After their first shot went high, Penn's Kevin McGeary received the ball at the point. As he ran to the net, he was immediately knocked to the ground by Mark Glicini and Tyler Warner, and Reilly Naton collected the loose ball to end the game and secure the victory of the Bulldogs, as they win their second straight game against Penn by one goal.
The statistics were virtually even between the two teams. Penn held a 33-31 advantage in shots, while Yale held a 10-7 advantage in face-offs. Hoyt Crance ended the day with 10 saves between the pipes, including crucial stops that would have given the Quakers a lead late in the game. He said of his performance, "I was just having a lot of fun out there. I had a little trouble seeing the ball, and since I am from California, I am not used to playing in the rain. After a while, I got used to it, and it was just a great team win."
"Our kids really knuckled down in tough conditions tonight," said Yale head coach Andy Shay. "We always have close games with Penn, it was just another one of those."