Men’s lacrosse falls 17-12 to Bulldogs in New Haven

Coming into Saturday’s game against No. 5 Yale, the men’s lacrosse team hoped to find its third Ivy League win for the year and avenge last year’s shootout loss against the Bulldogs. However, strong offensive attacks and dominant face-off play gave Yale (8-2, 4-1 Ivy) the advantage over Brown (4-7, 2-2), as the Elis came out on top 17-12 in the back-and-forth match-up.

Bruno’s Jack Kniffin ’20 quickly opened scoring for the game, posting a goal just over a minute in off an assist from Luke McCaleb ’20. But, Yale’s offense started to build momentum, scoring a minute later and then twice more in the middle of the quarter, before Carson Song ’19 scored a goal narrowing the game to 3-2 with 7:21 left to play in the first.

A goal from Darian Cook ’22 tied the game up at three-all with 5:48 remaining in the period, but the Bulldogs followed with two more goals, giving them a 5-3 advantage as the first period came to a close.

The Bears found the back of the net before Yale in what would prove to be a high-scoring second quarter for both teams. Back-to-back goals from Ryan Aughavin ’21 and McCaleb in the middle of the period tied the game up at 5-5. Yale tallied a score only eight seconds later, before another goal from Cook tied the game again with 9:33 remaining in the half.

The teams continued to trade punches to the very end of the quarter. A score from Riley Stewart ’21 followed two more goals from the Bulldogs. Yale scored once more with 6:07 remaining, followed by a tally by George Grell ’21 three minutes later. The Elis scored twice more with under 40 seconds remaining in the half, sending the game to halftime at a score of 11-8 in favor of the Bulldogs.

Just over three minutes into the second half, Kniffin opened scoring once more. However, after a period of seven scoreless minutes from both sides, which included five saves from Phil Goss ’20, Yale’s offense began to rally. The Bulldogs scored with 5:09 remaining in the third, then once more eight seconds later. Another goal from Yale two and a half minutes later put the game at 14-9.

But Kniffin broke the Elis’ scoring streak during the final 40 seconds of the third quarter before Yale sneaked one more goal in with five seconds remaining to set the score to 15-10 entering the fourth quarter.

The two teams continued to go back and forth in the last period. Brown capitalized off a man-up opportunity to start the quarter, as Kniffin scored under 30 seconds into the period off an assist from Cook. McCaleb scored three minutes later, posting his team-high 27th goal of the year to put the Bears within three at a score of 15-12.

Strong defensive play from both sides locked down scoring for the next ten minutes of the game. Brown continued to battle and take good shots but was unable to find the back of the net. Yale closed scoring with two empty-net goals in the final minute of play, putting the game at its final score of 17-12 in favor of the Bulldogs.

Despite the loss, the team’s hard-fought effort against the defending national champions demonstrated their resiliency and competitive capabilities.

“Throughout the game with our team, no matter what, there was no quit. We kept fighting,” said defenseman Alex Santangelo ’19. “There were definitely opportunities for us. … It comes down to a few critical plays that we just didn’t make.”

“We did a great job capitalizing on our opportunities at the beginning of the game,” Kniffin said. “Down the stretch, they just made more plays than we did.”

While the Bears’ record is 4-7 this year, the team has only been marginally outscored by opponents by an edge of 139-135. Four of Bruno’s losses have been within two goals or less, and the team has faced three squads ranked in the top 10 nationally: Yale, Penn and the University of Virginia. Going forward, the Bears hope to build off this experience of playing with high-level talent as they continue to push for a berth in May’s Ivy League tournament.

“Having great competition in the Ivy League means that everybody is forced to play their best game every time we step on the field,” Kniffin said. “We’d much rather play top teams that force us to play at the top of our level than play weaker teams where we can scrape a win out without playing our best.”

The Bears have a quick turnaround from the Yale game, as they will face off at cross-town rival Providence College tomorrow and then return home to play Cornell Saturday.

“The great thing about playing Tuesday is you get to move on after a Saturday loss and move forward,” Santangelo said. “If we can start off the momentum this week right with a big win on Tuesday, that will be huge for us.”

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