BULLDOGS IN TOURNAMENT FOR THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - For the fifth time in the last six seasons, the Yale men's lacrosse team will compete for a national championship. The No. 15 Bulldogs (10-5), winners of the Ivy League's regular season and tournament, take on No. 2 Syracuse (12-2) Sunday at 7:30 p.m. in the indoor sports mecca of upstate New York, the Carrier Dome. The first-round NCAA Tournament contest airs live on ESPNU with Chris Cotter, Paul Carcaterra and Ric Beardsley calling the action.
The winner of this game advances to the May 21 NCAA Quarterfinals at the University of Delaware to play the winner of the Towson-Penn State contest.
The Orangemen (12-3), who were ranked No. 1 during much of their nine-game win streak, have won 10 of the last 11 games. They are coming off an 11-9 win at Colgate in the regular-season finale, which followed a loss in the ACC Championship Game to North Carolina.
10 NOT THE LONELIEST NUMBER
Syracuse, which has played 10 games decided by a goal this season, tops all lacrosse programs in the country with 10 national championships.
Yale and Syracuse, slated for the final game of the first-round weekend on ESPNU, have played 23 times with the Orange taking 19 wins. The last win for the Blue was an 11-9 decision at New Haven in 1963. This will be the third NCAA Tournament meeting with Syracuse holding a 2-0 mark (1992, 2013). The No. 15 seed Bulldogs have not squared off against Syracuse since the 2013 NCAA Quarterfinals, a 7-6 win by the Orange at College Park, Md. The last time the two teams met in the post-season at Syracuse was an NCAA Tournament, second-round encounter in May of 1992 won by the home team (17-8).
COMING OFF IVY TITLE
The Bulldogs won a pair of come-from-behind, one-goal decisions last weekend at New Haven to earn the NCAA date. Yale beat Penn 13-12 in 4 overtimes on May 5 with Joseph Sessa notching the winner. Ben Reeves had six points, Matt Gaudet scored the game-winner late in the fourth and the Elis defense held on in the closing seconds over a 10-9 win over Brown on May 7. That championship game victory gave the Blue their fifth title in six years.
The Bulldogs played in their longest game since 2012 on Friday, as it took four overtime periods to decide a winner against Penn in the Ivy League Tournament Semifinal. Ben Reeves completed a six-point day (3 G, 3 A) with a feed to Joey Sessa, and the sophomore was able to convert the opportunity and bring the Bulldogs back into the final.
Yale, which scored six straight goals to erase a four-goal deficit while holding No. 1 Syracuse scoreless for 43 minutes, needed to protect a two-goal lead with a little over three minutes left to earn its first national semifinal appearance since 1990. The 6-4 lead evaporated in a span of 44 seconds and then Dylan Donahue found the net with 13 seconds left as the Orange squeezed past the Bulldogs 7-6 in the 2013 NCAA Quarterfinal at Byrd Stadium.
The Elis rose slightly in the national standings after defeating both Penn and Brown. They are ranked No. 15 in the final USILA National Poll, the highest of any team in the Ivy League, and No. 14 in the Maverik Media Poll. Yale also ranks first in the most recent NEILA poll, above Providence, Brown, and Harvard.
Yale, which put up 37 shots against Brown in the Ivy League Tournament Final, ranks seventh in the nation in goals per game with 13.1.
Ben Reeves was recently named the Ivy League Player of the Year. This is a the first time a Yale player has won the award since Joe Pilch did so as a goalie in 1999. Reeves was also named the Ivy Tournament Most Outstanding Player for the second consecutive year, and a Yale player has now won the award for three straight years. Eric Scott, Brian Pratt, Joey Sessa, and Aidan Hynes joined Reeves on the 2017 Ivy All-Tournament team. Coach Andy Shay was a unanimous selection as the Ivy League Coach of the Year. Eric Scott and Conor Mackie also join Reeves on the All-Ivy First Team, forming the first Yale trio on the All-Ivy First Team since 2012. Freshman defenseman Aidan Hynes was named to the second team, while Joey Sessa was given an honorable mention.
2017 ELI INDIVIDUAL SEASON-BESTS
Points: 10, Ben Reeves vs. Brown (April 15)
CTs: 3, Aidan Hynes vs. Brown (May 7)
Face-off Wins: 26, Conor Mackie vs. Princeton
ON THE X
Junior Conor Mackie is a crucial component for the Elis at FOGO. He went 10-for-23 against Brown in the Ivy Tournament Championship, ending his streak of better than 50 percent face-off wins at 10. He has taken nearly all the face-offs this season and has won 59.1 percent of his attempts, which ranks 14th in the nation and second in the Ivy League. He is also third in the nation with 8.73 ground balls per game. Mackie tied the school record for wins (26) in a game at Princeton (33 attempts) and recorded an amazing 18 ground balls. He also tied the NCAA record for the fastest goal to start a game when he scored just three seconds into the March 18 contest against Cornell.
The nine members of the class of 2017 have helped Yale to an overall record of 43-18 since 2014. That includes three Ivy League Tournament titles, three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and a regular-season league championship. 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.
Newcomers have been key for the Yale offense this spring. The class of 2020 has scored 67 times this season, including 30 goals from Matt Gaudet. The Ontario had a nine-game scoring streak earlier this season, and that run included a career-high four-goal performance against Brown. Gaudet also leads the nation in shot percentage, converting on 51.7 percent, and is one goal away from tying the Yale freshman single-season goal record. The offense has another 19 goals from Jackson Morrill, who added an assist in the win against Brown on Sunday. The Maryland native now has 18 assists, including a career-high of four helpers against Brown on April 15. His six-point performance against Villanova earned him an Ivy League Rookie of the Week award. He has recorded a point in 11 straight games. Lucas Cotler is also a factor for the Yale offense, notching an assist in the win over Brown. Defenseman Aidan Hynes has faced some of the toughest attackmen in the country over the past few weeks, and limited Dylan Molloy to just two goals on Sunday, while earning a spot on the All-Tournament team. He was named to the All-Ivy Second Team, despite starting in only nine games this season. Brian Ward scored twice this season, and Sam Selati has two assists on the year. Will Weitzel has been solid at the LSM position, backing up Brian Pratt, while Brody Wilson has spent time between the pipes this season, earning a 3-0 record. The new Bulldogs come from seven different states and a Canadian province, and Inside Lacrosse ranked this recruiting class as the 11th best in the nation.
Ben Reeves, who was one of five finalists for the 2016 Tewaaraton Award as a sophomore, has been named one of 25 nominees for this year's top honor for a collegiate lacrosse player, in addition to his Ivy League Player of the Year and Ivy Tournament Most Outstanding Player accolades. Reeves overcame an early-season injury to have another All-American campaign. He missed most of the first two games and then rebounded with a team-high 38 goals and 72 points over the last 13 contests. He established career-highs with five goals and 10 points against Brown in a game that clinched a 2017 Ivy League Championship for the Blue. He followed that with a 3-3-6 game at Harvard. He recorded another 3-3-6 game in the semifinal game against Penn on Friday, and capped off the Ivy League Tournament with a 3-1-4 game against Brown. Reeves, who has a 33-game point streak, ranks fifth in the nation with 5.21 points per outing. His 2.50 assists average is sixth. The Macedon, N.Y., native is quickly climbing up the ranks in the Yale Lacrosse record book, and currently sits second for career points with 195, just five points away from the Yale record. His 108 goals are also third at Yale, while his 87 assists rank fifth. Reeves made team history last year as the first Yale player named one of the five finalists for the Tewaaraton. He posted the third highest point total ever by a Yale player in a single season. His 79 points and 45 goals were both Yale sophomore records, and he was tied for second in the nation with 4.94 points per game. He was first-team All-America and All-Ivy in 2016 while being named the Ivy Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
Senior midfielder Eric Scott has been a consistent part of the Yale offense with points in every game and goals in all but one, and has now recorded his best statistical season at Yale. He scored three times against Penn on Friday and followed that performance with a two-goal outing against Brown, earning him a spot on the All-Tournament team. He is second on the team with 41 points. His point streak is now up to 18 games dating back to last season. Scott is also one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS award for his notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. He was a summer volunteer with Costa Rica Charity Lacrosse, a foundation that spreads the game of lacrosse while helping the community in Samara, Costa Rica by running lacrosse clinics for local kids, cleaning beaches, and renovating soccer fields. He also volunteers with New Haven Inner-City Lacrosse in weekly lacrosse clinics for at-risk middle school students. Last year, Scott recorded 19 goals and 17 assists, good for third on the team with 36 points. Scott was named to the 2016 All-Ivy League second unit and was named a 2017 preseason third-team All-American by Inside Lacrosse. He is also listed as a pre-season first-team All-New England selection by the NEILA. A Saybrook College resident and economics major, Scott has a job with the Raine Group in New York City.
Sophomore Joseph Sessa has been an essential asset to the Yale offense. He scored the winning goal in the fourth overtime against Penn on Friday, and added two assists on Sunday against Brown to earn a spot on the Ivy All-Tournament team. His season assist total is up to 23, and he ranks second on the team in that category. He also posted a career-high five assists against Villanova. Sessa, who is 38th in the nation in assists per game (1.53), has also added 11 goals, beating his 2016 season total (3 came at Bryant). His 34 points are the fifth-most on the team. 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, and an impressive performance against Brown (5 GB, 2 CT) earned him a spot on the Ivy All-Tournament team. 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 in Davenport, interned at Barclays last summer and will work for them after graduation.
Senior Camyar Matini, named to the 2017 Preseason All-America third unit, is a key ingredient in the Yale defense who has been missing for most of the last six games with an injury, but he did see some playing time on the man-down defensive unit against Penn on Friday. He has recorded nine groundballs and five caused turnovers. Last season he recorded 11 ground balls and seven caused turnovers, despite missing five games due to injury. Matini is listed as a 2017 Preseason Second Team All-New England selection. A Davenport College resident and economics major, he will work at Lazard, an investment bank in New York City, after graduation.
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.
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. Alessi set a career-high by scoring three times against Albany on April 22, scored two points (1 G, 1 A) against Penn on Friday, and scored twice in the Ivy League Championship game. He has 17 tallies on the year, along with eight assists, 18 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.
filed by Andrew Del Vecchio '19, Yale Sports Publicity