Ivy Play Begins with Big Red
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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The season that counts the most for the Yale men's lacrosse team begins this Saturday when the Bulldogs (2-3) host Cornell (0-4). That's opening day in the Ivy League, which features a 1 p.m. face-off at Reese Stadium that airs live on the Ivy League Digital Network and on Facebook Live.
The Bulldogs got off to a hot start last weekend against Fairfield, having leads of 5-0 and 8-2 before the Stags came back to send it to overtime. Ben Reeves notched his third goal of the game late in the second extra session to give Yale an 11-10 win. Matt Gaudet led all Bulldogs with four goals and five points. Robert Mooney made a critical play in the overtime period to cause a turnover and start the transition that led to the Reeves goal at the other end. Freshman Brody Wilson made six saves between the pipes for Yale in his first collegiate start. The team also forced Fairfield to fail six clearing attempts.
Cornell leads the all-time series against Yale, 51-22-1, and has taken three of the last four meetings. Yale won the most recent matchup during the 2016 regular season in Ithaca.
Cornell may have had one of the toughest non-league schedules among Ivies to start the 2017 season. The Big Red have played Penn State, Hobart, Albany and Virginia and are still looking for the first win. Three of the four were on the road, though the 19-18 OT loss to the Cavaliers was in Costa Mesa, Calif., last Saturday. Connor Fletcher and Jeff Teat are tied for the team lead with eight goals and a dozen points, while Christian Knight has all the starts in net.
The Bulldogs scored 11 times last Saturday, including five in the first quarter. Matt Gaudet led the charge with four goals, including three in the first half, while providing the game-winning assist. Ben Reeves was the moderator for the Yale offense, recording two assists while notching five points. Yale put up 39 shots against Fairfield, including 13 in the first quarter. Joseph Sessa has been leading the team in assists, averaging 2.2 per game, good for 16th in the nation.
IVY LEAGUE PROJECTIONS
The Bulldogs were given the top spot in the 2017 Ivy League Men's Lacrosse Preseason poll. Yale received 6 of 12 first-place votes. The Elis were followed by Brown, Penn and Harvard to round out the top four.
2017 ELI INDIVIDUAL SEASON-BESTS
Assists: 5, Joseph Sessa vs. Villanova
Saves: 15, Phil Huffard vs. Villanova
CTs: 4, Eric Scott vs. Bryant
Face-off wins: 20, Conor Mackie vs. Fairfield
Four Bulldogs were named pre-season All-American by Face-Off Yearbook. Junior Ben Reeves was a first-team pick, Eric Scott and Camyar Matini were on the third team, while Tyler Warner earned an honorable mention.
SPREADING THE LOVE
Last week, five different Bulldogs scored on 39 shots. Matt Gaudet led all Yale scorers with four goals and five points, while Ben Reeves added three with two assists. In the five games this season, 10 players have found the back of the net.
The nine members of the class of 2017 have an overall record of 35-16, including two Ivy League Tournament titles and NCAA Tournament appearances. 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.
The freshman class has been a key asset to the Yale offense, while adding support in the midfield. The class of 2020 has scored 19 times this season, including nine goals from Matt Gaudet. The Ontario native has scored six the past two games, including four against Fairfield. He also recorded the game-winning assist. The offense has another eight goals from Jackson Morrill. The Maryland native also has five assists, and his six-point performance against Villanova earned him an Ivy League Rookie of the Week award. Lucas Cotler is also a presence for the Yale offense, as he has recorded two goals and an assist so far this year. Will Weitzel has been solid at the LSM position, backing up Brian Pratt. The new Bulldogs come from seven different states and a Canadian province. They include six midfielders, three defensemen, two attackmen and a goalie. Inside Lacrosse ranked this recruiting class as the eleventh best in the nation.
Ben Reeves is in his element right now for the Yale offense. In the two games last week, he scored seven goals and added three assists. His third goal against Fairfield came in the overtime period, when he finished a one-timer from Matt Gaudet in front of the crease during the counterattack. His season total of 15 (7-8) points rank first on the team. His 3.75 points per game ranks ninth in the Ivy League. Reeves made team history last year as the first Yale player named one of the five finalists for the Tewarraton Award, the highest individual honor in college lacrosse. He posted the third highest point total ever by a Yale player in a single season. His 79 points and 45 goals are both Yale sophomore records, and he was tied for second in the nation with 4.94 points per game. The Macedon, N.Y., native was named to the 2016 All-Ivy League First Team and the All-American First Team, and was also named the Ivy Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
Senior midfielder Eric Scott has been a consistent part of the Yale offense. He continued his scoring streak last Saturday, bringing his season total to 10. He leads the team in goals, and he is on pace to set a new career-high by the end of the season. 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 a to the 2016 All-Ivy League Second Team, and was named a 2017 preseason third-team All-American by Inside Lacrosse. He is also listed as a preseason First Team All-New England selection by the NEILA. Scott was named to the first-team All-New England in 2015, and was fourth on the team in scoring with 28 points (22 G, 6 A).
Sophomore Joseph Sessa has been an essential asset to the Yale offense. He is a team sparkplug who has distributed the ball effectively. He has 11 assists, including a career-high of five against Villanova, and is 16th in the nation in assists per game. He has also added two goals, and his 13 points are the second-most on the team. Last year, he recorded six goals, including three against Bryant early in the season. 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 a season-ending injury before the start of the 2016 season, he was still visible on field, leading the players onto the field before pre-game warmups. 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, interned at Barclays last summer.
Senior Camyar Matini, named to the 2017 Preseason All-America third unit, is a key ingredient in the Yale defense. Last season he recorded 11 ground balls and seven caused turnovers, despite missing five games due to injury. He was part of the 2016 starting lineup with Michael Quinn and Chris Keating, forming a tenacious defense that was in the top 10 in the nation. Matini is listed as a 2017 Preseason Second Team All-New England selection.
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. His tenacity showed in the 2016 Ivy League Tournament, when he and classmate Jason Alessi played a critical role in the defensive zone to secure another championship for the Bulldogs.
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. He has four tallies on the year along with six 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.
More Yale lacrosse games are being aired on national television than in any previous year. On March 24, Yale travels to Princeton to take on its conference rival, and the game can be seen on ESPNU. In one of the most highly-anticipated games of the year, the Elis host Brown on April 15, which can again be seen on ESPNU. The game at Maryland earlier this season was also on ESPNU. The 2017 Ivy League Tournament will be aired on the ESPN Networks. In addition, several regular season games will be aired on ESPN3 in partnership with the ILDN, including games against Penn and Harvard.
filed by Andrew Del Vecchio '19, Yale Sports Publicity