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Navy Holds Off Yale in NCAAs

Ben Reeves (Stephen Fritzer image)
Ben Reeves (Stephen Fritzer image)

Reeves Gets 6 Points, Named Tewaaraton Finalist


NEW HAVEN, Conn. – An historic season full of heroic performances should come to an end before a packed house and a national television audience. But neither Yale nor most of the college lacrosse pundits expected that to happen to the Bulldogs in today's first round NCAA Tournament game.

Navy, even with Yale at the half, held the Elis to three second-half goals on the way to a 13-10 win at Reese Stadium that ended the 2016 campaign for the tournament's No. 4 seed.

The Blue had a 39-34 edge in shots and had seven more ground balls than the Midshipmen, but did not produce enough face-off wins while running into a very hot goalie. John Connors, who had 12 stops in the game, made six, third-quarter saves that may have been the difference in the game.

The Bulldogs (13-3) jumped out to leads of 2-0 and 4-1 as All-American Ben Reeves was wheeling and dealing in the offensive end on the way to a three-goal, six-point afternoon. He had two assists and a goal to help the home team start so well. That was, however, before the Midshipmen reeled off four straight goals to take a 5-4 lead.

Freshman Jack Tigh was the primary beneficiary of the Reeves distribution. He scored Yale's first two goals – on assists from Reeves – and had three on the game.

"I give them [Navy] a lot of credit. They struggled down the stretch [of the regular season]. It's not often you take two weeks off and come back the way they did," said Yale head coach Andy Shay about today's opposition. "They were very impressive."

Navy (11-4) won a second quarter face-off with a chance to increase its lead to two, but second-year midfielder Tyler Warner chased down the ball and smacked it to the ground before taking it the other way. It turned into a Jeff Cimbalista goal with 5:36 left in the second to make it 5-5.

Reeves, the sophomore first-team All-Ivy pick who finished the year with 45 goals and 79 points, was so impactful for the Yale offense in the first half, he looked impressive even while being stopped. On the next possession, he zipped around the defense and got his hands free for a moment to take a shot. However, the gap closed quickly and he lost control of the ball, which took a bounce and was scooped by Will Robinson. The sophomore midfielder sent it top shelf for his third goal of the year to give the Elis their final lead at 6-5.

The folks working in the press box asked if Reeves had intended to get the ball to Robinson that way. That's the kind of respect the Yale star has been getting. It's also why tonight he was named a finalist for the 2016 Tewaaraton Award.

There were other Yale heroes whose efforts could not go unmentioned.

Senior captain Michael Quinn, who valiantly returned to the Yale defense today after missing the last few weeks with a torn ACL, may have given the performance of his life. Nobody outside the Yale team expected him to be able to play, let alone start the game and play such a pivotal role. The emotional team leader eventually fell to the turf awkwardly early in the fourth quarter and had to be helped off the field for the final time in his brilliant All-American career.

"He's such an impressive kid," said Shay of his captain. "He's an impressive leader and I'm so proud to be associated with him. It was huge to have him out there. When he went down (3 weeks ago), it effected our guys emotionally. I don't think I could have kept him off the field."

The visitors had another shot at a two-goal lead before intermission. Quinn was all over a Navy attackman and helped induce a warding call that led to Yale making it a 7-7 game at the half. The Elis quickly moved it down field to set up Reeves with his second of the game with 11.2 seconds left.  

There were times when you thought the Bulldog offense was about to get things clicking again in the second half, but Connors kept coming up with the enormous saves or a Yale player would lose control of the ball at the worst of times. Navy had one more turnover than the Elis, but the guys in blue shirts were playing with the lead for the last 26 minutes of the contest.

The Bulldogs came back from big deficits a few times down the stretch of the season, but the little things just didn't come together at the right time today.

"It's pretty heart breaking. The seniors gave so much to this program and invested so much. They really put their hearts on the line," said the Eli coach.



The crowd of 3,526 was the most for a Yale lacrosse game at home since 3,763 attended the 1990 Yale-Princeton NCAA game… The Tewaaraton Foundation announced the finalists for the 2016 Tewaaraton Award, presented by Under Armour, tonight during halftime of the Albany-Syracuse NCAA Tournament game, live on ESPNU. Ben Reeves will be invited to Washington, D.C., for the 16th annual Tewaaraton Award Ceremony on June 2.


Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD & Sports Publicity Director-