Comeback Effort Falls Short

Team huddles during a timeout in the fourth quarter.
Team huddles during a timeout in the fourth quarter.



NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale men's lacrosse team overcame three separate deficits in its non-league game tonight against UMass, including a four-goal comeback to tie the game late in the fourth quarter that evened the score at 9-9. However, the Bulldogs were unable to come back from the last one as the Minutemen scored two goals in the final minute to upset the No. 15 Bulldogs, 11-9.


Ben Reeves played like a Tewaaraton award candidate, taking matters into his own hands to help the Bulldogs comeback from their largest deficit. The junior scored twice as part of a four-goal unanswered streak for Yale in the second half, and had four total on the day, while adding an assist. Yale had a 38-29 advantage in shots overall on the night, overcoming a slow start.


The Minutemen were perfect on extra-man opportunities, converting on all four of their chances. They also won 14 of 24 face-offs. The Elis were able to compensate for that by intense pressure during UMass clearing attempts, forcing them to go 9 of 15 on the night, while the Yale midfield went 11-11.


After the Minutemen got off to an early lead, the Yale offense was able to take advantage of a UMass turnover. Jackson Morrill drew the eyes of the defense before passing to Matt Gaudet behind the net. The freshman was able to pull around in front of the net, giving him a one-on-one situation with the goalie. Gaudet, who spent time playing box lacrosse before coming to Yale, made a nice shot fake look casual before firing low and leveling the score at one.


Trailing 3-1 late in the first quarter, Eric Scott took matters into his own hands to bring the score within one. After a UMass turnover, the transition offense for Yale was effective, and Scott had just one defender between him and the goal. Sprinting around his man, Scott fired a rocket that sailed just under the crossbar, giving him his ninth goal of the year and cutting the UMass lead in half. The 3-2 score held until the end of the quarter.


The offense was aided by an excellent transition in the midfield again to begin the second frame. Reeves found himself in a two-on-one situation with Gaudet running with him towards the net from the left side. Just as the defender was approaching, Reeves threaded a pass to Gaudet at the crease, and the Ontario native finished with a one-timer to pull the Bulldogs level.


Facing another two-goal deficit midway through the second quarter, the offense got back to work with a long possession. Patience around the perimeter paid off, as Reeves was eventually left with enough space between him and his defender to put up a shot. He aimed it to the right corner and found the back of the net, giving the 2016 Tewaaraton Award finalist his first goal of the season.  


With another chance to equalize late in the half, the offense seemed to play with more energy and precision as they set up their offense. Sessa held position behind the net, and a quick run by Jackson Morrill left him open on the left side. Sessa fed the ball to him, and the freshman stepped into a shot that flew past the UMass goalie and leveled the score at five. That play gave Morrill his eighth goal of the year, and Sessa his tenth assist.


The Minutemen scored on an EMO right before the end of the half, but the Bulldogs had overcome a two-goal deficit on two separate occasions in the first 30 minutes. The Elis also held a 22-14 shot advantage, while forcing UMass to commit three turnovers during clearing attempts.


The second half started slow for the Bulldogs, as the Minutemen converted on two extra-man opportunities while the Yale offense was left watching from the other side of the field. With five minutes left to play in the third quarter, the Elis were looking at a four-goal deficit. Reeves, already with two points on the day, decided to take matters into his own hands.


After some confusion from the UMass defense, Reeves found himself behind the net with the goalie drawn out of the crease. He wrapped around the net, and was able to fire a shot before the goalie could get back in position, and finished into the open net on the unassisted play.


On the ensuing offensive possession, Reeves created space for himself again, and fired a shot from his left side that snuck into the bottom corner. That goal gave him his first hat-trick of the year, and kept the Bulldogs within two heading into the fourth quarter.


Having held UMass without a goal for over twelve minutes, the Yale offense looked to get back to work with ten minutes remaining in the game. Passing around the perimeter created space at the point, as Morrill found Jack Tigh just to his right. The sophomore set up for a shot, and placed it low for his fourth of the year, bringing the Bulldogs within one.


The four-goal comeback was completed less than two minutes later. The offense, with all of the momentum on their side, set up once again. Morrill found Reeves again on the right side of the zone, and Reeves set his sights on goal. His shot nailed the bottom left corner of the goal, and his fourth goal of the day sent the crowd at Reese Stadium into a frenzy.


The Minutemen converted in the final minutes of the game to take the lead again, and the ten-man ride by Yale with 50 seconds left allowed them to add one more. UMass won the ensuing face-off and ran out the clock to secure the 11-9 victory, their first of the year.


The Bulldogs have now lost three in a row after their season-opening win against Villanova. They will be back in action on Saturday at Reese Stadium, as they take on the Fairfield Stags in a 1 p.m. game that will be streamed live on the Ivy League Digital Network.


filed by Andrew Del Vecchio '19, Yale Sports Publicity