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Elis Look To Get Back On Track

Jason Alessi (Ted Keating photo)
Jason Alessi (Ted Keating photo)

BULLDOGS HOST IN-STATE OPPONENT SATURDAY 

 

 

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale men's lacrosse team attempts to get back on track with another non-league contest against another Connecticut school this Saturday. The No. 15 Bulldogs (1-3) host the Fairfield Stags at Reese Stadium in a 1 p.m. game airing live on the Ivy League Digital Network. 

 

LAST GAME

The Bulldogs played in their first night game of the season at Reese Stadium last Tuesday against UMass. After overcoming a two-goal deficit twice in the first half, the Elis found themselves down four goals in the third quarter. The team rallied behind Ben Reeves, who scored three of four for the Bulldogs as they drew level. However, the Minutemen scored twice in the final minutes to secure the upset victory. 

 

THE SERIES

Yale is 9-1 all time against Fairfield. The Bulldogs have won two of the past three, including a 10-5 win at Fairfield last season. 

 

RANKINGS

The Elis currently sit at the No. 15 spot in the USILA/Nike Division I Coaches' Poll after their loss against Bryant. They also are No. 20 in the Maverick Media Poll. The Bulldogs have been ranked in the Top 20 for each poll since the beginning of last season, and are currently the second highest ranked team in the Ivy League. 

 

FAIRFIELD

The Stags have won two of their five games this season but have only been home in one of those, an 8-7 win over UMass-Lowell. Last Saturday at Stony Brook, Fairfield put together a solid effort against the No. 18 team in the country and came up short, 9-6. Colin Burke leads the team with seven goals and 13 points, but the offensive production is spread among many. Brad Nordstrom (7.84 GAA) and Tyler Behring (11.01) have been sharing time in the net.

 

DEFENSE

The Elis had one of the top scoring defenses in the nation last year, and they are looking strong again so far. On Tuesday, the defense held its ground for most of the game, limiting UMass to 11 goals, and only allowing two scores in the final 20 minutes of the game. Phil Huffard made seven saves between the pipes for Yale. The team also forced the Minutemen to commit 13 turnovers, with tight pressure in the transition game. 

 

OFFENSE

The Bulldogs found the back of the net nine times last weekend. Ben Reeves led the charge with four goals, including three in the second half as part of the comeback effort. Yale put up 38 shots against UMass, including 22 in the first half. Joseph Sessa has been leading the team in assists, averaging 2.5 per game, good for ninth in the nation. 

 

IVY LEAGUE PROJECTIONS

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 behind Penn in the national rankings, while Princeton, Harvard, and Brown also received votes.  

 

2017 ELI INDIVIDUAL SEASON-BESTS

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

Assists: 5, Joseph Sessa vs. Villanova

Points: 6, Jackson Morrill, Joseph Sessa, Eric Scott, Ben Reeves

Saves: 15, Phil Huffard vs. Villanova

CTs: 4, Eric Scott vs. Bryant

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

 

PRESEASON HONORS

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.

 

SPREADING THE LOVE

Last week, five different Bulldogs scored on 38 shots. Ben Reeves led all scorers for Yale with four, while Matt Gaudet added two. In the four games this season, 10 players have found the back of the net, and 27 goals have been assisted. 

 

SENIOR LEADERS

The nine members of the class of 2017 have an overall record of 34-16, 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 (9 goals), Jeff Cimbalista (2), captain Brian Pratt (2 GB), Camyar Matini (4 GB, 1 CT), Henry Guild, John Lazarsfeld, Jack Berney, Charlie Better, and Conor Resch

 

FRESHMAN FOCUS

The freshman class has been a key asset to the Yale offense, while adding support in the midfield. The class of 2020 has scored 15 times this season, including eight goals from Jackson Morrill. The Maryland native also has four assists, and his six-point performance against Villanova earned him an Ivy League Rookie of the Week award. Matt Gaudet has also made an impact with five goals. Lucas Cotler is also a presence for the Yale offense, as he has recorded two goals and an assist so far this year. Will Weitzel has been solid at the LSM position, backing up Brian Pratt. 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. 

 

REEVES

Ben Reeves returned to his form from last season on Tuesday against UMass, scoring three times as part of a four-goal unanswered streak. He finished the day with four goals and an assist, and has now logged nine points in the past two games. His season total of 10 ranks third on the team, behind Morrill and Sessa. Reeves 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. 

 

SCOTT

Senior midfielder Eric Scott has been a scoring machine for the Yale offense. He three times in the past two games, bringing his season total to 10. He leads the team in goals, and he 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). 

 

SESSA

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 ten assists, including a career-high of five against Villanova, and is ninth in the nation in assists per game. He has also added two goals, and his 12 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.

 

CIMBALISTA

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.

 

PRATT

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 unit so far this season, and played a solid defensive role. 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. 

 

MATINI

Senior Camyar Matini, named to the 2017 Preseason 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.

 

WARNER

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. 

 

ALESSI

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 has three tallies on the year along with five groundballs and a caused turnover. 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. 

 

TELEVISED 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 Fairfield, Penn, and Harvard. 

 

filed by Andrew Del Vecchio '19, Yale Sports Publicity