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Elis Host Bryant In Home Opener

Tyler Warner (John Mackie photo)
Tyler Warner (John Mackie photo)



NEW HAVEN, Conn. - After a tightly contested battle last week against the top ranked team in the country, the Yale men's lacrosse team heads back to New Haven for its first home game of the season. The No. 7 Bulldogs host the Bryant Bulldogs at Reese Stadium in a 1 p.m. Saturday game airing live on the Ivy League Digital Network and ESPN3. 



This weekend's contest is the first of the 2017 season that airs on the Ivy League Digital Network and ESPN3. The Ivy League has extended its collaboration with ESPN to simulcast four Yale lacrosse games on ESPN3 this spring, including matchups against Bryant, Fairfield, Penn, and Harvard. 



The Bulldogs travelled to College Park last weekend to take on the No. 1 Maryland Terrapins. After trailing 11-5 in the third quarter, the Elis began a furious rally in which they scored six of the final seven goals and came within one of upsetting the Terps. Eric Scott had a career-high five goals in a game that featured two weather delays in the final minutes of the game. 



Yale has won the past three meetings with Bryant and is 3-1 overall. Its most recent victory came during the 2016 regular season, a 14-4 game at Smithfield. Joseph Sessa and Michael Keasey led the charge for the offense, scoring three goals each, while Phil Huffard allowed just three goals in the first three quarters. The Elis also outshot Bryant, 49-25. 



The Elis currently sit at the No. 6 spot in the Maverick Media Poll, moving up two positions after a strong showing against Maryland. They also are No. 7 in the USILA/Nike Division I Coaches' Poll, the highest ranking of any team in the Ivy League. 



The Bryant Bulldogs are 2-2 with wins against Hartford and Manhattan. Their offense is led by senior Tucker James, who has posted 20 points (13 G, 7 A). He is joined by juniors Cam Ziegler (9 G, 8 A) and Kyle Cornell (4 G, 6 A). James Werner has a save percentage over 55 percent in four games, and their defense has combined for 35 caused turnovers. The Bulldogs' man-up offense is converting on 60 percent of opportunities, good for sixth in the nation.



The Elis had one of the top scoring defenses in the nation last year, and they are looking strong again so far. Last Saturday, the defense held their ground in the second half to one of the most productive offenses in the country, limiting the Terrapins to one goal in the final 25 minutes of the game. Phil Huffard has been the back line of the Yale defense so far, and his 12.5 saves per game rank 12th in the nation, and second in the Ivy League. 



The Bulldogs found the back of the net 11 times last weekend. Of the goals scored, seven were assisted, and the combined 15 points per game ranks 15th in the nation. Yale put up 37 shots against Maryland, including 22 in the second half, and its staggering 40.3 shooting percentage is the third highest in the nation, and first in the conference.



The Bulldogs were also given the top spot in the 2017 Ivy League Men's Lacrosse Preseason poll, as they edged out Brown. Yale received 6 of 12 first-place votes. The Elis and Bears are followed by Penn, and Harvard to round out the top four. Currently, the Bulldogs sit at the top of all national rankings, closely followed by Penn, while Brown, Harvard, and Princeton also received votes. 



Four members of the Yale men's lacrosse team have been named preseason All-Americans in a release from Face-Off Yearbook, which appears on the Inside Lacrosse website. Junior Ben Reeves begins the 2017 campaign the same way he ended last season, as a first-team All-American. Eric Scott and Camyar Matini were named to the third team, and Tyler Warner earned an honorable mention.



Goals: 5, Jackson Morrill vs. Villanova, Eric Scott vs. Maryland

Assists: 5, Joseph Sessa vs. Villanova

Points: 6, Jackson Morrill vs. Villanova, Joseph Sessa vs. Villanova, Eric Scott vs. Maryland

Saves: 15, Phil Huffard vs. Villanova

CTs: 3, Jerry O'Connor vs. Villanova

Face-off wins: 15, Conor Mackie vs. Villanova



Last week, six different Bulldogs scored on 37 shots. Eric Scott led all scorers in the game with five, while Jackson Morrill added two. In the two games this season, nine players have found the back of the net, and 16 goals have been assisted. 



The nine members of the class of 2017 have an overall record of 34-14, including two Ivy League Tournament titles and NCAA Tournament appearances. The most wins by a Yale lacrosse class is 46 by the 1991 and 1992 groups. The seniors include Eric Scott (5 goals last week), Jeff Cimbalista (1 goal this season), captain Brian Pratt (1 GB), Camyar Matini (1 GB), Henry Guild, John Lazarsfeld, Jack Berney, Charlie Better, and Conor Resch



The freshman class have made an immediate impact only two games into their collegiate career. The class of 2020 have scored ten times this season, including seven goals from Jackson Morrill. The Maryland native also has an assist, and his six-point performance against Villanova earned him an Ivy League Rookie of the Week award.  He is currently tenth in the nation in goals per game, and he ranks top in the nation in shot percentage (7 goals off 8 shots). Lucas Cotler is also a presence for the Yale offense, as he has recorded two goals and an assist so far this year. Matt Gaudet also added a goal in the game against Villanova. The new Bulldogs from the class of 2020 come from seven different states and a Canadian province. They include six midfielders, three defensemen, two attackmen and a goalie. Inside Lacrosse ranked this recruiting class as the eleventh best in the nation. 



Ben Reeves, who has missed most of the first two games with an injury, made team history last year as the first Yale player named one of the five finalists for the Tewarraton Award, the highest individual honor in college lacrosse. The preseason first-team All-American is set to build on his record-breaking season, in which he posted the third highest point total ever by a Yale player in a single season. His 79 points and 45 goals are both Yale sophomore records, and he was tied for second in the nation with 4.94 points per game. The Macedon, N.Y., native was named to the 2016 All-Ivy League First Team and the All-American First Team, and was also named the Ivy Tournament Most Outstanding Player. As a freshman, Reeves was the 2015 Ivy Rookie of the Year, and an All-New England and an Ivy All-Tournament selection.



Senior midfielder Eric Scott had a career day at College Park against Maryland. He scored five times, a single game career-high, and added an assist in the comeback effort. He now has six goals, ranking 21st in the nation, and is on pace to set a new career high by the end of the season. Last year, Scott had the best statistical year of his collegiate career with 19 goals and 17 assists, good for third on the team with 36 points. Scott was named a to the 2016 All-Ivy League Second Team, and was named a 2017 preseason third-team All-American by Inside Lacrosse. He is also listed as a preseason First Team All-New England selection by the NEILA. Scott was named to the first-team All-New England in 2015, and was fourth on the team in scoring with 28 points (22 G, 6 A).  



Sophomore Joseph Sessa has been an essential asset to the Yale offense. He is a team sparkplug who has distributed the ball effectively. He has eight assists, including three against Villanova, and currently leads the nation in helpers per game. He has also added a goal, and his nine points lead the team. Last year, he recorded six goals, including three against Bryant early in the season. Listed at 5-feet, 5-inches on the roster, Sessa uses his speed and athleticism to create opportunities.



Senior attackman Jeff Cimbalista has been an important part of the high-octane Yale offense. Last year, he had six multiple-goal games, including hat tricks against St. John's and Cornell. Cimbalista was also named to the 2016 All-Ivy Tournament team after scoring four goals in two games. He had 20 goals and 25 points last spring. As a sophomore, he finished second on the team with 30 goals. He also placed third on the Bulldogs with 35 points.



Yale athletics teams have just one captain. Senior Brian Pratt, the voted leader of the 2017 Bulldogs, is a versatile asset at the LSM position. He has been key to the face-off wins early in games against both Villanova and Maryland, and played a solid defensive game against the Terps throughout the day. Despite a season-ending injury before the start of the 2016 season, he was still visible on field, leading the players onto the field before pre-game warmups. Pratt had 26 groundballs during the 2015 season for a defense that ranked among the top 10 in the country. "It is important not to lose sight of the hardnosed, corner dog mentality as we continue to move the program to new places," said Pratt, a political science major who interned at Barclays last summer. 



Senior Camyar Matini, named to the 2017 Pre-season All-America third unit, is a key ingredient in the Yale defense. Last season he recorded 11 ground balls and seven caused turnovers, despite missing five games due to injury. He was part of the 2016 starting lineup with Michael Quinn and Chris Keating, forming a tenacious defense that was in the top 10 in the nation. Matini is listed as a 2017 Preseason Second Team All-New England selection.



Junior Tyler Warner has played a key role as a short-stick defender for the Bulldogs. Often responsible for covering some of the best attackmen, Warner can also find balls on the ground and distribute in the offensive end. He was given an honorable mention for the 2017 Preseason All-American list as a defensive short stick midfielder. He was also named to the 2017 NEILA Preseason All-New England Team. He recorded 16 groundballs and six caused turnovers last year, and scored goals against both Penn and Sacred Heart. His tenacity showed in the 2016 Ivy League Tournament, when he and classmate Jason Alessi played a critical role in the defensive zone to secure another championship for the Bulldogs. 



Two-sport Division I athletes are unique, even more so are key players for both teams. Junior midfielder Jason Alessi is the best male example at Yale, starting on defense for the football team, while making plays for the lacrosse team. He scored again last week against Maryland, giving him three tallies on the year. He has also recorded four groundballs. Alessi finished the 2016 season with 12 goals and 2 assists, including three multi-goal games. On the gridiron, the defensive back is the only player in Yale history to record a pair of punt returns for TDs over 80 yards.  Alessi is listed as a Preseason Second Team All-New England selection by the NEILA. 



Junior Phil Huffard had a career game to begin the season against Villanova, and played well against the nation's top ranked team in College Park. He recorded 10 saves against the Terrapins, giving him 25 for the season. His save percentage (.577) ranks fourth in the Ivy League, and he is 12th in the country in saves per game. Last year, Huffard also posted a .459 save percentage, while making 62 saves in 10 games. 



This year, more Yale lacrosse games are expected to be aired on national television than in any previous year. On March 24, Yale travels to Princeton to take on its conference rival, and the game can be seen on ESPNU. In one of the most highly-anticipated games of the year, the Elis host Brown on April 15, which can again be seen on ESPNU. The 2017 Ivy League Tournament will also be aired on the ESPN Networks. In addition, several regular season games will be aired on ESPN3 in partnership with the ILDN, including games against Bryant, Fairfield, Penn, and Harvard. 


filed by Andrew Del Vecchio '19, Yale Sports Publicity