Yale, Brown in Sunday Title Game
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale sophomore Joseph Sessa had two shots tonight in the second semifinal of the 2017 Ivy League Lacrosse Tournament at Reese Stadium. Few people other than Sessa remember anything about the first one, but the second will be on everyone's mind for a long time.
The 5-foot-5, 155-pound midfielder from Slate Hill, N.Y., took a pass from Ben Reeves in the fourth overtime, dodged to his right to get a step on his defender and then bounced a shot from 20-feet out that whizzed past Penn goalie Reed Junkin with 2:56 left that ended (13-12) the longest game in Ivy League Tournament history.
"I was on the crease and Ben went top side," said Sessa, whose first shot came in the first quarter and bounced off the pipe. I was in the right place at the right time. He threw me a great pass, and I made the move and shot the ball."
Reeves, who had three goals and six points, took the ball and dodged a defender before quickly encountering two more Quakers. The All-American attackman, who scored with 52.9 seconds left in regulation to send this do-or-die game into OT, stepped back and found Sessa open on the left side to set up the winner in Yale's longest game since a four-OT thriller vs. Brown in 2012. Sessa finished with two points.
Reeves saw his top-seeded squad go down 12-11 with 3:12 left in the fourth. The Elis had a few possessions before getting the equalizer and a timeout. Coming out of the huddle, the junior came in from the side, beat his defender to the inside and went low through the goalie's legs for his third goal of the game to make it 12-12.
Yale, which earns a Sunday, noon championship game encounter with No. 3 seed Brown, was playing to keep its season alive. A back and forth game played mostly in fog with a season on the line could have threatened the lives of many weak-hearted old Blue among the 1,382 in attendance.
The Blue trailed 2-1 early on and then reeled off three straight during a first quarter that would end with the Quakers clinging to a one-goal lead. Eric Scott (3 goals, 4 points) hit the net twice for the Blue in the first and then assisted on Matt Gaudet's tally in the second, one of two Bulldog goals during the quarter prior to halftime. Gaudet finished with two goals.
The lead changed a few times in the second half and neither squad had more than a two-goal lead at any point.
"I am Immensely proud of these guys," said Yale head coach Andy Shay of the Bulldogs. "After giving up four goal leads in the last two games, I told the guys my wish is that we are down [tonight], and we have to come back. I was kicking myself during the game."
The Bulldogs (9-5) had the edge in almost every stats category except saves against a team with a three-game win streak, including a victory over Virginia last weekend.
"Penn was incredible. That was an absolute battle tonight," said Shay, who is looking for his fifth tourney title. "It's a shame someone has to lose that game."
The Bulldogs' defense allowed six goals in the first quarter and then just six over the last 59 minutes.
Yale also deserves a lot of credit for ball possession, which led to the host school outshooting the No. 4 seed 13-2 during a wild three-plus sessions of extra time. Conor Mackie, who won 17 face-offs in the game, had a few big wins in the OTs as the Elis pelted Junkin with rubber.
Looking for the golden goal, the teams played nearly an extra quarter, and that heart-stopping time included EMOs, amazing saves and so many close calls.
Trailing 12-10 early in the fourth, Brown scored seven straight on the way to a 17-15 win. The Bears' first lead of the game came in the fourth quarter. Stephen Hudak had five goals and six points while Dylan Molloy had four and six.
Sunday's champion will be the only Ivy school in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, the first time the league has just one team in the national event since 2008.
Senior defenseman Camyar Matini, who was injured in the game at Penn in April and missed the rest of the regular season, returned tonight to kill off an extra-man opportunity in the second quarter and then play more in the third… Ben Reeves now has 105 career goals and trails Adam Puritz '88 for third place at Yale by one. Reeves' 190 points are 10 shy of first place where Jon Reese '90 sits with 200.
By Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD & Sports Publicity Director – firstname.lastname@example.org