YALE LIMITED ON OFFENSE IN SECOND HALF
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Four different Bulldogs hit the net over the first 16 minutes of their home season-opener. Things were going according to the plan for the No. 7 Yale men's lacrosse team, which held a 4-1 lead early in the second quarter. However, Bryant spoiled the plan by scoring five straight goals on the way to a 9-6 win on a chilly day at Reese Stadium.
Turnovers and face-offs were key factors in the contest. The Elis lost the ball 15 times and lost all six face-offs in the third quarter. They were only able to get off 11 shots in the second half, and only three in the final quarter, while going 1-9 from the face-off position in the second half. The Elis also committed seven turnovers in the final quarter, where they were held without a goal.
James Werner made 12 saves for Bryant, including stops at critical moments that kept momentum in favor of the visitors. Before this game, the Elis led the nation in clearing percentage, but Yale was just 3-7 on clear attempts in the final quarter.
After securing possession from the opening face-off, the offense looked to set the tone early in the game. Sophomore Jack Tigh passed to Eric Scott on the right side of the zone, and the senior was determined to continue his scoring streak after a five-goal performance against Maryland. He outran his defender towards the cage and made the finish look easy as the Bulldogs took the lead.
The Elis got back to work on offense on the next possession after a face-off win by Conor Mackie. Freshman Matt Gaudet did well to keep possession after pressure from the Bryant defense. He found Ben Reeves behind the net. Back in his role as quarterback of the Yale offense, Reeves found a wide open Brandon Mackie, and the sophomore was able to fire a clean shot that gave Yale a 2-0 lead just two minutes into the game.
Bryant was limited to just one goal in the first quarter, partly the result of intense pressure during their clearing attempts from the Yale attack and midfield. Joseph Sessa and Jackson Morrill pestered the Bryant defense as they attempted to get the ball out of their defensive zone and caused two turnovers. The man-down defense for the Elis also held its ground, as Bryant was unable to convert on three extra-man opportunities in the first quarter.
After Bryant cut the Yale lead down to one, Sessa made a great individual effort to build another two goal lead. The team's leading point scorer going into this game was alone with a defender on the right side of the zone. Sessa shifted his weight to his right, drawing the defender to that side, and the juke move allowed the sophomore to run past him to the left. He finished the play with a high shot that snuck in under the crossbar.
The second quarter began with more pressure on offense by the Bulldogs. After controlling possession, Reeves held the ball in his typical spot behind the net. He found a streaking Gaudet on the left side of the net, and the Ontario native fired a shot from a tight angle as he approached the crease. The ball slid through the narrow window between the goalie's reach and the top corner, giving him his second goal of the year and giving the Elis a three-goal lead.
Bryant strung together a few good possessions on offense, and scored three straight goals in the second quarter, tying the game at four before the horn sounded to end the half. The Bulldogs had a 21-16 advantage in shots, and were 6-10 from the face-off position, but were only able to convert once on eight shots in the second quarter. Werner made eight saves for Bryant in the first half.
The second half began with Bryant continuing its goal streak, as they added two more to give them five straight goals and a two-goal lead. Midway through the third quarter, the Yale offense was looking to score its first goal in over 20 minutes of play. Reeves watched the play develop from behind the net, and threaded a pass through the Bryant defense to Scott, who was positioned in the middle of the zone. Scott managed to launch a shot in traffic that hit the top side of the net and brought the Elis within one.
On the next possession, the Eli offense appeared to have regained its energy from the first quarter, and the passes were quicker and cleaner. Reeves ended up with possession behind the net again, and made a quick pass to Gaudet in front of the crease. Without much room to work, Gaudet was able to finish the play with his second goal of the game, tying the score at six. Bryant added a goal late, and the Elis trailed 7-6 after three quarters.
The Elis, who used Phil Huffard (3 saves) and Hoyt Crance (4) in net today, are now 1-2 on the season, but are back in action on Tuesday. They take on Massachusetts in a 7 p.m. game at Reese Stadium that airs live on the Ivy League Digital Network.
filed by Andrew Del Vecchio '19 and Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity