Tigers Take 5-OT Thriller

Michael Pratt. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Michael Pratt. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Inspirational Yale Effort Falls Short

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The longest game in the history of Yale men's lacrosse came to an end after 78 minutes and 21 seconds with a heart-breaking finish for a team looking for a win in its third straight game against a ranked opponent. No. 13 Princeton survived the five overtime thriller, 10-9, but one of the largest crowds ever at Reese Stadium saw a fight in the Bulldogs that will bring fans back to watch this season.

Alex Capretta's third goal of the day at 1:39 of the fifth extra session gave the Tigers a contest they had led most of the way. Princeton (5-2, 2-0 Ivy) had two-goal leads three times before going up 8-5 early in the fourth quarter.

The Tigers had the edge in shots (49-38) and ground balls (34-29), but Yale won 14 of 26 face-offs. None of the face-offs were bigger than the ones Dylan Levings (10-17) grabbed late in the fourth to help engineer the three-goal comeback.

Brandon Mangan, who had a game-high five points, led the Bulldogs with two goals, including one with 47 seconds left in regulation that brought the home team to within one. Greg Mahony, thanks to another Levings victory on the X, got a chance to send the game into overtime when he blew by a Princeton defender and beat Tyler Fiorito (13 saves) with 23 seconds remaining.

Yale's sophomore goalie Jack Meyer rose to the occasion with his best game as a Bulldog. He made a career-best 14 saves, including three in the second overtime. The Tigers sent six shots at him in the first OT and eight more in the second. Eighteen of their 49 shots came after regulation.

Princeton hit the pipe twice in the first OT but the second-year netminder never got flustered. That certainly contributed to the length of this contest, the longest one since Yale played Brown in a four-OT game on April 4, 2001 (15-14 loss).

It was amazing how well the Yale defense fought in the extra sessions with the amount of rubber flying toward its goal and the time the visitors had the ball. Yale defenseman Harry Kucharczyk had a team-best five ground balls and three caused turnovers. Peter Johnson, who picked up four balls and caused a pair of miscues, was also key to the defensive effort.

One of the most inspirational Yale efforts came from Michael Pratt, desperately trying to help his squad beat Princeton in consecutive years. A year ago he helped the Blue take an OT contest at Old Nassau. He was all over the field making contributions this time, and he started the three-goal run to event things late by hitting the net with 3:19 left.

The Yale captain was nearly lost in the first OT after a nasty collision with a Tiger. Nobody at Reese Stadium thought Pratt would return after they watched him get helped off the field. He not only returned in the second OT, he made big plays and used his leadership abilities to keep the Bulldog defense inspired through the toughest of times.

Not to be lost in the craziness of this day was another outstanding performance by rookie attackman Conrad Oberbeck. He helped the Elis (2-4, 0-2) erase all those multiple-goal deficits by scoring twice and handing out an assist.

 "I'm proud as can be.  Those guys played five overtimes," said Yale head coach Andy Shay. "First of all, to be down three late, force overtime, and play five overtimes and be man down during it.  Both teams left everything out there, so I'm sure a lot of people left the stadium and saw the best game they'd ever seen, so I was very impressed."


Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director