FRIDAY SEMIFINALS BEGIN AT 3:30 PM
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Yale, the league men's lacrosse regular-season champions, is the top seed in the four-team, 2017 Ivy tournament that begins this Friday afternoon at 3:30 and ends with a noon Sunday championship contest at Reese Stadium. All the games air on ESPNU with Chris Cotter and Ryan Boyle calling the action. The Bulldogs (8-5, 5-1) play No. 4 Penn (7-5, 3-3) at 6 p.m., which follows the semifinal featuring No. 2 Princeton (9-5, 4-2) vs. No. 3 Brown (9-5, 4-2). Sunday's winner advances to the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
IVY TOURNEY HISTORY
Yale, the winner of the 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016 tournaments, has appeared in every league post-season event since it began in 2010. The Bulldogs are 8-3 overall and have outscored opponents 114-90. All three losses came in semifinals, while two were one-goal decisions. The Elis are 4-0 in championship games, taking titles at Ithaca, Princeton and Providence (twice). In Ivy tourney play, Yale is 2-0 vs. Penn, 1-1 vs. Harvard, 3-1 vs. Princeton, 1-1 vs. Cornell and 1-0 vs. Brown.
Yale seeks a third consecutive tournament title and automatic qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. The 18-team field of the 2017 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship will be revealed Sunday, May 7 (9 p.m. ET, ESPNU), during the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship Selection Special.
Yale leads the all-time series against Penn, 42-27, and the Bulldogs have won nine of the past 11 meetings. The two teams met in the 2016 Ivy League Tournament Semifinal, a one-goal victory for the Elis. Earlier this year, the Bulldogs defeated the Quakers 14-12 at Franklin Field.
The Bulldogs, who earned a second regular-season Ivy title under Andy Shay, came within a goal of their first perfect Ivy League campaign since 1956 after having the lead for almost the entirety of the 100th meeting with Harvard last Saturday at Boston. A pair of four-goal leads and a six-point day by Ben Reeves was spoiled by a late Harvard comeback in a 9-8 decision. The junior All-American had three goals and had his hand on all but two of the Yale goals.
Penn has won three straight games and are coming off a 17-11 win over Virginia in Durham, N.C., at the ACC Network Extra. That's the game featuring an Ivy school against the fifth-place ACC team. The Quakers won 62 percent of the face-offs against the Cavaliers and got five goals and six points from Adam Goldner along with a dozen saves from Reed Junkin.
The Elis fell in the national standings after a loss to Harvard. They are ranked No. 16 in the USILA National Poll, the highest of any team in the Ivy League, and No. 17 in the Maverik Media Poll. Yale also ranks first in the most recent NEILA poll, above Providence, Brown, and Harvard.
Yale, which put up 53 shots against Harvard, ranks sixth in the nation in shots per game. Ben Reeves leads the team in assists, averaging 2.55 per game, good for sixth in the nation. As a team, the Elis are averaging 13.83 goals per game, which ranks sixth in the country.
2017 ELI INDIVIDUAL SEASON-BESTS
Points: 8, Ben Reeves vs. Brown
CTs: 4, Eric Scott vs. Bryant
Face-off Wins: 26, Conor Mackie vs. Princeton
ON THE X
Junior Conor Mackie is a crucial component for the Elis at FOGO. He went 14-for-20 against Harvard, increasing his streak of games with better than 50 percent face-off wins to nine. He has taken nearly all the face-offs this season and has won 60.7 percent of his attempts, which ranks 12th in the nation and second in the Ivy League. He is also third in the nation with 8.92 ground balls per game. Mackie tied the school record for wins (26) in a game at Princeton (33 attempts) and recorded an amazing 18 ground balls. He also tied the NCAA record for the fastest goal to start a game when he scored just three seconds into the March 18 contest against Cornell.
SPREADING THE LOVE
Fifteen different Bulldogs have scored goals for a total of 174 on 533 shots.
The nine members of the class of 2017 have helped Yale to an overall record of 41-18 since 2014. That includes two Ivy League Tournament titles, a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances and a regular-season league championship. The most wins by a Yale lacrosse class is 46 by the 1991 and 1992 groups. The seniors include M Eric Scott, A Jeff Cimbalista, captain and D Brian Pratt, D Camyar Matini, D Henry Guild, M John Lazarsfeld, G Jack Berney, D Charlie Better and D Conor Resch.
Newcomers have been key for the Yale offense this spring. The class of 2020 has scored 62 times this season, including 26 goals from Matt Gaudet. The Ontario had a nine-game scoring streak earlier this season, and that run included a career-high four-goal performance against Brown. Gaudet also leads the nation in shot percentage, converting on 57.8 percent. The offense has another 19 goals from Jackson Morrill, who scored eight times in the past four games. The Maryland native also has 15 assists, including a career-high of four helpers against Brown. His six-point performance against Villanova earned him an Ivy League Rookie of the Week award. He has recorded a point in ten straight games. Lucas Cotler is also a factor for the Yale offense, scoring another goal in the Harvard game. Cotler now has scored in eight straight games. Brian Ward scored twice this season, and Sam Selati has two assists on the year. Will Weitzel has been solid at the LSM position, backing up Brian Pratt, while Brody Wilson has spent time between the pipes this season, earning a 3-0 record. The new Bulldogs come from seven different states and a Canadian province, and Inside Lacrosse ranked this recruiting class as the 11th best in the nation.
Ben Reeves, who was one of five finalists for the 2016 Tewaaraton Award as a sophomore, has been named one of 25 nominees for this year's top honor for a collegiate lacrosse player. Reeves overcame an early-season injury to have another All-American campaign. He missed most of the first two games and then rebounded with a team-high 32 goals and 63 points over the last 11 contests. He established career-highs with five goals and 10 points against Brown in a game that clinched a 2017 Ivy League Championship for the Blue. He followed that with a 3-3-6 game at Harvard. Reeves, who has a 31-game point streak, ranks fifth in the nation with 5.25 points per outing. His 2.58 assists average is sixth. The Macedon, N.Y., native is quickly climbing up the ranks in the Yale Lacrosse record book, and currently sits second for career points with 184. His 102 goals are also fourth at Yale, while his 83 assists rank fifth. Reeves made team history last year as the first Yale player named one of the five finalists for the Tewaaraton. He posted the third highest point total ever by a Yale player in a single season. His 79 points and 45 goals were both Yale sophomore records, and he was tied for second in the nation with 4.94 points per game. He was first-team All-America and All-Ivy in 2016 while being named the Ivy Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
Senior midfielder Eric Scott has been a consistent part of the Yale offense with points in every game and goals in all but one. He added one assist against Harvard, and he is third on the team with 22 goals. He is second on the team with 35 points. His point streak is now up to 16 games dating back to last season. Scott is also one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS award for his notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. He was a summer volunteer with Costa Rica Charity Lacrosse, a foundation that spreads the game of lacrosse while helping the community in Samara, Costa Rica by running lacrosse clinics for local kids, cleaning beaches, and renovating soccer fields. He also volunteers with New Haven Inner-City Lacrosse in weekly lacrosse clinics for at-risk middle school students. 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 to the 2016 All-Ivy League second unit and was named a 2017 preseason third-team All-American by Inside Lacrosse. He is also listed as a pre-season first-team All-New England selection by the NEILA. A Saybrook College resident and economics major, Scott has a job with the Raine Group in New York City.
Sophomore Joseph Sessa has been an essential asset to the Yale offense. His season assist total is up to 20, and he ranks second on the team in that category. He also posted a career-high five assists against Villanova. Sessa, who is 41st in the nation in assists per game, has also added 10 goals, beating his 2016 season total (3 came at Bryant). His 30 points are the fourth-most on the team. Listed at 5-feet, 5-inches on the roster, Sessa uses his speed and athleticism to create opportunities.
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 an injury that took away his 2016 season, he was still visible with the team, during practice and games. Pratt had 26 groundballs during the 2015 season for a defense that ranked among the top 10 in the country. Pratt, a political science major in Davenport, interned at Barclays last summer and will work for them after graduation.
Senior Camyar Matini, named to the 2017 Preseason All-America third unit, is a key ingredient in the Yale defense who has been missing the last five games with an injury. He has recorded nine groundballs and five caused turnovers. Last season he recorded 11 ground balls and seven caused turnovers, despite missing five games due to injury. Matini is listed as a 2017 Preseason Second Team All-New England selection. A Davenport College resident and economics major, he will work at Lazard, an investment bank in New York City, after graduation.
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.
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. Alessi set a career-high by scoring three times against Albany on April 22. He has 14 tallies on the year, along with six assists, 17 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.
Ben Reeves has been named the Ivy League Player of the Week twice this season. He received the most recent award after recording a career-high 10 points, including a career-high five goals against Brown. Matt Gaudet has been named to the Ivy Honor Roll for four weeks this season. Conor Mackie was the other Yale player to earn Player of the Week honors this year after winning 26 face-offs against Princeton, and Jackson Morrill was named the Rookie of the Week after a five-goal performance against Villanova.
BIO FOR BULLDOGS
Most of the Bulldogs are either economics or political science majors. However, five members of the 2017 Yale team are majoring in the sciences, four of whom are molecular, cellular and developmental biology majors. Ben Reeves, Brendan Rooney, Will Sullivan and Jackson Burton all share that major, while Tyler Warner is ecology and evolutionary biology.
filed by Andrew Del Vecchio '19, Yale Sports Publicity