Bulldogs Beat Harvard 10-8 on Senior Day
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – If you watched Dylan Levings pace the sidelines today in front of the Bulldogs' bench a few feet behind his teammates, you might think he was having a rough day. He didn't stop moving, going back and forth enough to wear out a strip of the new synthetic surface. Three different opposition face-off specialists tried to stop him from moving and couldn't come close as the No. 19 Yale men's lacrosse team increased its win streak to seven games and beat rival Harvard 10-8 in a thrilling home season finale.
Levings, who took every face-off for the Bulldogs (9-4, 4-2 Ivy), won 17 of 22 and had a game-high nine ground balls. The sophomore from Massapequa, N.Y., who ranks fourth in Division I face-off percentage, won the first six battles before taking nine of the last 10 on the way to one of the great performances in recent school history.
"I'm a little anxious and it helps me stay focused," said Levings, about his sideline routine. "I try to stay in the zone, in the place I was for the previous face-off. I felt like it was one of my best days. I think I play a little better when we need it, but I just want to win so badly."
This was the perfect way to send out 10 seniors, playing their final home game at Reese Stadium. The largest (1,675) crowd of the year saw the Blue improve its win streak to the longest for Yale in 22 years.
"Playing Harvard on our senior day really contributed to my motivation," said Levings. "They will remember this forever and I wanted to play well for them."
"We had a good scouting report on the goalie," said Mangan, who is second on the team with 19 goals. "We just kept shooting the ball and didn't let one miss stop us from shooting. The electricity of the Harvard-Yale match-up makes this game so physical. Everyone wants to win it. They needed to win to get into the tournament. It feels unbelievable to beat a team like this - nothing can compare."
The Crimson season came to an end at 6-8 (2-4 Ivy) with the loss combined with Brown's 10-8 win over Dartmouth. Harvard got three goals (all in the second half) from Jeff Cohen, who is second in the nation with 48 this year, and two each from Will Walker and Kevin Vaughan.
"He (Cohen) is definitely a great goal scorer. He can shoot from pretty much any angle," said defenseman Michael McCormack. "In the first half, I wasn't sliding from him as much, so I was pretty much hip-to-hip with him. In the second half, I started getting into packages a little more, and he was able to get the ball."
"I'm proud of the guys," said Yale head coach Andy Shay, whose team plays Cornell in the Ivy League Tournament Semifinals next Friday night at Princeton as the No. 3 seed. "They played very tough, and it's a fitting tribute to our seniors to win the game like this."
Other than the face-offs, the final statistics were relatively close. Yale had the edge in shots (37-35), ground balls (30-26) and clears (13/15, 17/21).
Yale goalie Jack Meyer has had a number of big games in his first year as the starter. The sophomore from Manhasset, N.Y., who made four huge stops in the third to finish with 12 on the day, could easily be considered one of the game's MVP candidates. Meyer didn't begin 2012 as the top man in net but seized his first opportunity and has been between the pipes for the win streak.
The Cantabs held leads of 3-2, 5-3 and 7-6 before Yale's three-goal run from the end of the third into the start of the fourth made the ultimate difference. Mangan ran up the middle and bounced a shot in at 14:30 of the fourth to put the Blue up 8-7. Mahony, less than a minute later, scored with a long-distance sniper shot.
Cohen cut the lead to 9-8 at 11:18, but another ball didn't find the net until Flaherty, who ran past the Harvard goalie and some defenseman, scored with 1:14 remaining to clinch the contest.
There were plenty of highlight moves from white jerseys, but the prettiest scoring play on this sun splashed but chilly afternoon was a connection between senior Matt Gibson (2 assists) and Dempster. Gibson hit the junior in stride, with a crossing feed a few feet before the edge of the crease, and Dempster did the catch-and-flick past Harry Krieger (9 saves) to start the scoring in the second half.
"It would have been tough to lose this game and then have to turn around and play next weekend," said Yale captain Michael Pratt. "We watched a lot of film on last year's [Harvard] game. None of us were happy about the way it went, so we used that as motivation for this game today."
filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
Levings photo by Don Clark