Yale Takes Ivy Tourney Title, 15-7 over Tigers
PRINCETON, N.J. – Their practice shirts say "Leave No Doubt," and that's exactly what the Bulldogs did today to plant themselves in the middle of the national lacrosse scene. The No. 15 Yale men's lacrosse team won its ninth straight game today and qualified for the NCAA Tournament by beating No. 9 Princeton 15-7 to win the 2012 Ivy League Tournament before 1,422 at Class of 1952 Stadium.
There are no doubts. Yale hammered both (No 13 Cornell Friday) league giants this weekend and proved its longest winning streak since 1990 was legit. The Bulldogs, who find out where and when they are playing in the national tournament tonight at 9 p.m. on ESPNU, got three goals from Deron Dempster, six points (2 goals) from tournament MVP Matt Gibson and nine saves from goalie Jack Meyer to win the school's first-ever post-season event.
The Elis earned their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1992 by dominating the six-time national champion, which was perfect in 2012 league play and had won five straight since falling to Syracuse on April 7.
"It's been a long hiatus [from NCAAs]," said Yale head coach Andy Shay. "It's been a group effort all the way. We've been hammering at this for a long time and it's a big step for the program."
The final stats (Yale 32-31 in shots, 33-30 ground balls) do not indicate the difference the visitors had today because it was all about possession of the ball.
Dylan Levings, Yale's super sophomore face-off man, won 14 of 23 and kept the ball on Eli sticks most of the game. Levings, continuing the line of Yale face-off powers, found the net for the first time in his career to give the Elis a four-goal lead in the third. He won 27 of 49 between the two games and has now won 63 percent of his attempts this spring.
When Tigers had the ball, there were hounding Bulldogs close by who were causing havoc. Junior defenseman Peter Johnson marked Princeton's top weapon, Tom Schreiber, a certain All-America pick who was held to three shots and two assists.
"He's [Schreiber] a really shifty player and I tried to limit his left hand as much as I could," said Johnson, who along with Harry Kucharczyk combined for four of Yale's five caused turnovers. "That was hard because he set a lot of picks on me, double picks on both sides. I was trying to get through the picks and stay, keep him matched up as much as we can. He got a lot of good looks, so my hat's off to him because he's a really good player, too."
The Blue jumped out to a 4-0 lead on Ivy League MVP Tyler Fiorito, who finished with four saves.
"What he's done and throughout his career, we've definitely respected him," said Dempster about the Princeton goalie. "He's had a great year. We just knew we were going to have to beat him off stick and change the planes of our shots and just keep testing him. We have some great shooters and we knew we could beat him if we put him in the right spots. Today, we just picked our shots really well and we were able to capitalize on our shots."
Yale capitalized on its shots all weekend, and a few Bulldogs had monster statistical weekends in the wins over two nationally ranked teams. Dempster, one of six New Haven guys to earn all-tournament honors, had 11 goals while Gibson notched two goals and a dozen assists.
Conrad Oberbeck, who made a nice spin move and shot, converted a nifty Gibson feed to open the scoring at 9:27 and give the visitors a 1-0 lead. A pair of Mangan goals closed out the first frame and was followed by Matt Miller's tally 38 seconds into the second.
"We've come into our own as an offense the past few days," said Gibson, who had a spectacular lead pass that enabled Miller to find the net. "We played really patient. The past two games we proved we could beat anyone if we play smart on the offensive end."
The Bulldog defense kept the regular-season league champions off the scoreboard until 13:29 of the second quarter when Mike MacDonald found the net. It was the first of three consecutive by the home team, and it could have been more if not for the outstanding play of Meyer, who knocked away three quality shots in the second.
Yale midfielder Greg Mahony scooped up a ground ball late in the second and found Gibson low. The senior attackman deked high and low and then shot high at 4:57 to make it 5-3 at intermission.
Princeton got two straight from the sniper (Alex Capretta) who won the five-OT game at New Haven in March, and it looked like the Tigers might take the momentum. That's when the Blue exploded for six straight to put it away and serve Princeton its worst defeat of the year, one that put its NCAA hopes in jeopardy.
Meyer shut the door on the home team the rest of the way. "I'm really confident in our defense and our game plan. If the defense does their thing, I'm going to have a good chance to make the save," said the sophomore netminder who had 22 saves over two games at Princeton this weekend. "They did a great job for me today. You have to play like you are down three or tied. You can't relax."
Yale has won three straight games at Class of 1952 Field, two against the Tigers and the Ivy semifinal against the Big Red… Freshman D Harry Kucharczyk de-sticked Princeton midfielder Tucker Shanley and then snatched the ground ball in a come-from-behind, hit-and-run play that typified the Elis' defensive effort… The Bulldogs had rare consecutive shots from defensemen (Michael McCormack, Peter Johnson) in the fourth quarter.
filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
2012 All-Ivy Tournament Team
Roger Ferguson, Brown
Alex Capretta, Princeton
Mik MacDonald, Princeton
Chad Wiedmaier, Princeton
Michael McCormack, Yale
Dylan Levings, Yale
Peter Johnson, Yale
Deron Dempster, Yale
Matt Gibson, Yale*
Jack Meyer, Yale
* Tournament's Most Outstanding Player