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Second Half Comeback Falls Short

John Mackie image
John Mackie image



COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Bulldogs came within a goal of one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the program during a game featuring top 10 lacrosse teams in a nationally televised showdown at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium this afternoon. No. 8 Yale, which trailed by as many as six goals in the second half, scored the game's last three before falling to No. 1 ranked Maryland, 12-11.


The thrilling, one-goal decision began just after noon and ended a few minutes after 4:00 p.m. Two different weather delays late in the fourth quarter made this a strange, waiting experience for everyone in the stadium.


The last delay for lightning came with 37 seconds left and the Terps holding the ball. The defense forced a turnover, giving the offense possession with nine seconds remaining. A pick play allowed Eric Scott to take a shot that sailed just over the top of the net, and on the ensuing inbounds play, the Bulldogs were unable to get a shot off, as Maryland narrowly escaped with a victory.


The Elis, playing without injured junior All-American Ben Reeves, got five goals and six points from senior Eric Scott. The Elis refused to let up on offense, stringing together six goals late in the game to cut the margin to one. They posted 23 shots in the second half, while playing tenacious defense that forced Maryland to commit turnovers.


Conor Mackie gave the Bulldogs a chance to set the tone of the game early, winning the opening faceoff cleanly. Quick passing around the perimeter eventually wore down the Maryland defense, and Scott was given space to fire a shot from the right side that hit the top of the net, giving Yale a lead on the game's first possession.


Mackie continued to be dominant from the face-off position in the early parts of the game, winning the first four face-offs and seven of eight overall in the first quarter against Austin Henningsen, one of the best FOGOs in the country. Mackie's efforts gave Yale an early advantage in possession and led to the constant offensive pressure in the first minutes of the game.


Maryland's game plan included running a transition offense that could quickly move possession to their offensive zone. The Yale defense was conditioned and prepared and forced Maryland to commit several early turnovers.


Brendan Mackie had a response for the Terrapins midway through the first quarter. The sophomore took on an All-American short-stick defender, and spun around in front of the net to gain a step. He launched a shot low that hit the back of the net and leveled the score at two.


After one quarter, Maryland held a 5-2 lead. The Terrapins held an advantage in shots, but Yale led in both time of possession and face-offs. The Elis, however, were not afraid of the early deficit. The offense dominated possession again to begin the second quarter, as Conor Mackie won two more face-offs.


On the second possession, Scott drew the attention of the defense, and after drawing the slide he passed to an open Jeff Cimbalista at the point. The senior had time and room, and fired a shot low that cut the Terrapin lead down to two.


Down four late in the second quarter, the Bulldogs were still able to be productive on offense. With three minutes left in the half, Scott held possession at the perimeter, and decided to take matters into his own hands. He sprinted around the perimeter, beating two defenders, and got a shot off from his right side that sailed into the bottom left corner of the net.


The Terrapins led 8-4 at the half, which was amazing considering that Conor Mackie had won nine of 14 face-offs. The Eli defense limited the Maryland scoring chances in the second quarter and held the home team to three goals on 18 shots.


The Yale offense needed to produce some results after Maryland built a five-goal lead early in the third quarter. Joseph Sessa, who assumed the role of the quarterback for the Yale offense after the injury to Ben Reeves, helped find an answer. The sophomore found a streaking Scott down the middle of the lane, and the senior finished in front of the net to cut down on the deficit.


Jackson Morrill, who had five goals a week ago in the opener, added his name to the score sheet midway through the third quarter. The freshman received the ball behind the net, and his athleticism allowed him to sprint around his defender and past the goal-line extended. While on the run, he found the opposite lower corner of the net, and kept the Bulldogs in the game.


With momentum building in the quarter, the Yale offense looked to cut down on the Maryland lead even further. Jason Alessi found himself isolated with a defender on the left side of the zone. The junior stepped back to create some space, and fired a quick shot after drawing a penalty that found the back of the net. The reduced the margin to four.


With an extra-man opportunity in hand, the Bulldogs were able to capitalize and continue the scoring streak. Their patience paid off, as Jack Tigh was left with room at the point, allowing the sophomore to step into a shot. The ball sailed above the goalie's head, and his third goal of the year brought Yale within three.


The offense continued to convert on offense in the final minutes of the quarter. Morrill, left alone with one defender again, ran into a tight angle on the net, and launched a shot that got past the only open spot on net: between the goalie's legs. On the next full Yale possession, Scott received possession at the point again, and launched a shot from a low angle. The rocket nailed the top left corner of the net, and brought Yale within two with one quarter to play.


With all of the momentum in favor of the Bulldogs, the offense looked to continue their hot streak into the final minutes of the game. Sessa, who had become a key factor in the third, found Scott cutting across the face of goal with a precise pass. Scott was able to immediately jump, turn, and score his fifth goal of the game, a career high.


The weather delays kept the players and fans at the stadium for over four hours, and in the end the Bulldogs faced a narrow defeat to a national contender early in the season. Coach Andy Shay certainly has plenty of positive takeaways from this game, as the Bulldogs look to rebound next Saturday.


The Elis will be playing in their 2017 home opener next week when they take on Bryant. The game is set for Saturday at 1:00 p.m., and will be aired live on the Ivy League Digital Network.


filed by Andrew Del Vecchio '19 and Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity