Bulldogs Win 11-10 at Reese
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Ben Reeves, who has scored seven goals in his last two games, wasn't cooling off with another cold day at Reese Stadium. The hot junior and 2016 Tewarraton Award Finalist found the net with 1:14 left in the second overtime as the Yale men's lacrosse team defeated Fairfield 11-10.
The Stags, who overcame deficits of 5-0 and 8-2 to send the game past regulation, had the ball in the second overtime on the doorstep of a game-winner when sophomore Robert Mooney checked a Fairfield attackman and took the ball away.
The Yale defenseman flipped it up to Eric Scott, who took it over midfield and then sent a pass to Jackson Morrill, who was about 20 feet away from the net. The freshman attackman quickly passed it to the left of the cage for Matt Gaudet, another Eli rookie. Gaudet, who led the team with four goals and five points, spotted Reeves breaking toward the right post and put the ball on his stick for a quick, catch and shoot tally from the edge of the crease.
Reeves' double overtime winner came after Fairfield has clawed back from a six-goal deficit in the second half. Yale dominated the first half, scoring five straight goals in the first quarter to jump to an early lead. Jack Tigh scored two of the three Yale goals in the second half, putting a halt to the Stags' run and keeping the Bulldogs ahead.
Gaudet led all scorers in the game with four goals, bringing his season total up to nine. Reeves finished with three goals and two assists. Conor Mackie had the best game of his collegiate career from the face-off position, going 20 of 25 to give the Elis multiple opportunities on offense.
The Bulldogs set the tone early after winning the opening face-off. A set play left Morrill behind the net, and the freshman found his Gaudet on the right side of the zone. He gave himself enough room to set up for a shot, and notched his first goal of the day, and sixth of the year, to give Yale an early lead they would continue to build on in the early minutes.
Reeves, fresh off his four-goal performance against UMass, continued his scoring streak with two straight goals in the opening minutes of the game. His first goal came after circling around the crease and faking a turn back towards net to create space from his defender. He turned back to give him a better angle on net, and finished low. Reeves' second score came on an almost identical play, as he sprinted past the goal-line extended before finishing low, and within ten minutes Yale held a 3-0 lead.
Reeves continued to lead the Yale offense on its five-goal run to start the game, with help from fellow junior Jason Alessi. With three minutes left in the quarter, Reeves found Alessi at the point position, and the two-sport athlete saw a chance to fire off a shot. From that distance, the placement had to be perfect, and his high-to-low shot sailed past the Fairfield goalie.
With the clock ticking down at the end of the first frame, the Bulldogs could have been satisfied with a four-goal lead. But with one last chance on offense in the final seconds, the Elis kept the pressure on, and Alessi found Gaudet in the middle of the zone with space. The Ontario native launched a shot towards net, and the ball hit the back of the net just before the horn. The goal was counted, and Yale ended the quarter with a 5-0 lead after dominating on both sides.
The Yale defense limited Fairfield to four shots in the first quarter, partly due to the intense pressure during the Stags' transitions in the midfield. Fairfield was only 2 of 6 during clearing attempts, and Yale was able to cause multiple turnovers to stop the attack before it even started. Mackie won the first eight face-offs of the game, and played a huge role in getting Yale back-to-back opportunities, allowing them to keep up pressure on offense.
The Stags got their first goal of the game just before the 20-minute mark, but the Bulldogs responded with two more goals of their own. Scott started the second quarter scoring with a goal from a tight angle on the right side of the zone, as the power and placement were good enough to give him team-leading tenth goal of the year.
Twenty seconds later, the offense was back at work after Mackie won yet another face-off for Yale. Reeves circled around the crease again, and the Fairfield defense tried to prevent him from scoring on the wraparound for the third time by sliding to the goal-line extended. Reeves waited for the slide, and then threaded a pass to Gaudet, who was wide open in front of the net and finished easily for his first hat trick of the season, pushing the lead back up to five goals.
Fairfield would get one back before the end of the half, but the Elis were looking better on both sides of the field then they had in the previous two games. Yale held a 14-5 advantage in shots on goal after the first two quarters. Mackie finished the half 8-10 from the face-off position, and held a 21-9 lead in groundballs. Freshman Brody Wilson had three saves in his first collegiate half for Yale.
Gaudet continued his scoring tear to begin the third quarter. Joseph Sessa, leading the team in assists going into this contest, held possession behind the net while he waited for the play to develop in front of him. Confusion on defense allowed him to find an open Gaudet in front of net, and his fourth goal of the game gave Yale another six-goal lead.
The Stags responded with four straight goals to pull themselves within two with less than three minutes left in the third quarter. Jack Tigh took it on himself to end the Fairfield scoring run, and made a great individual effort to stop the momentum. The sophomore made a move to get into open space at the top of the perimeter, and while on the run fired a shot high that bounced into the top half of the net and gave Yale their ninth goal on the day.
Tigh stepped in again to stop another Fairfield run in the middle of the fourth quarter. Three straight Fairfield goals had brought the score level, and the Yale offense was unable to put together a good possession. Scott drew the slide as he ran into the middle of their zone defense, allowing him to make a precise pass to Tigh, open on the left side. He was then able to step immediately into a shot, and his second of the game gave Yale a one-goal advantage.
The Stags got one back, and both teams traded empty possessions in the final minutes of the game. The Bulldogs were looking at their first overtime game of the season, after going 1-1 in OT contests in 2016 at home. In the first overtime, both teams had an extra-man opportunity, but neither side was able to convert, forcing a second overtime in the frigid conditions at Reese Stadium.
The fast-break opportunity in the second overtime was finished off by Reeves, and the Bulldogs stormed the field as they ended a three-game losing streak. Their first win at home might provide momentum as they head into conference play next weekend. After three games in a calendar week, the Elis will be back in action on Saturday against Cornell in a 1 p.m. home game that airs live on the Ivy League Digital Network.
filed by Andrew Del Vecchio '19, Yale Sports Publicity