Elis Open Ivy Season in Impressive Fashion
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Conor Mackie drove through Grant Mahler on the opening face-off, scooped the ball off the Reese Stadium turf and headed for the goal. The junior midfielder saw an opening down the middle and then found the net from long distance just three seconds into the Ivy League opener for his Yale squad. Mackie's momentum began an offensive explosion by the Bulldogs that resulted in a 17-8 lacrosse win over Cornell.
Mackie continued his great day by winning 21 of 30 battles on the X, which included 10 ground balls, while the Elis got big performances from Ben Reeves, who had four goals and six points, Eric Scott (5 assists) and Joseph Sessa (2-2-4) in a season-high offensive outing they never trailed.
"We were out here shooting before the game, and he [Mackie] hit the net on his first shot in the same place [as the opening goal], and he said it was going to be a great day," said Reeves, who leads the team with 11 goals.
Mackie was looking to be dangerous in the offensive end.
"We like to drill on that during practice… to generate some offense from the faceoff," said the Glen Rock, N.J. native. "We try to get at least two shots a game off the X."
The Blue improved to 3-3 overall and kept the Big Red winless by getting out to a fast start (leads of 3-0, 7-2) and winning way more (36-22) ground balls on this cloudy and cold day. Junior Tyler Warner and freshman Will Weitzel combined for nine ground balls as the Elis won most of the small battles all over the field.
While the home team took care of possession and outhustling its hungry opposition, the unselfish nature of the Eli offense made it tough to defend. Yale had a 7-3 lead at the half with seven different players finding the net.
The Blue went up 6-2 when Sessa passed low to Reeves, who sent it to the edge of the crease through lots of traffic for Matt Gaudet at 6:18 of the second. The freshman attackman had an easy tally on a pretty pass. Reeves, who had four goals and seven points against the Big Red at Ithaca last year, managed to thread the needle with a feed that went between numerous Cornell sticks.
If the Big Red thought they could turn things around in the second half, Reeves doused those hopes with a long, low shot that tickled the twine 32 seconds out of the intermission to make it 8-3.
Yale rookie Lucas Cotler scored twice today, and his second was one of the daggers hurled at the team coming off a 19-18 loss to Virginia last week. Cotler took a feed up top on the right, deked a defender to gain a step and then froze Cornell goalie Christian Knight (13 saves) before sending a blazing shot into the back of the net at 6:22 of the third to increase the margin to 10-4.
"A lot of young guys stepped up and I thought we played as a team really well. We had great contributions from everyone on the offense," said Reeves, one of 10 different goal scorers for the guys wearing white jerseys today.
While the Bulldogs were buzzing on offense, the defense, led by captain Brian Pratt, was limiting the looks for the visitors. They allowed Cornell to score consecutively just twice on the day, while 250-pound freshman goalie Brody Wilson notched his second win with eight saves.
"I think this was the first complete game we played all season," said Pratt. "We harped on it all week, playing a complete game at both ends. We were executing everywhere."
The guy doing most of the harping all week was head coach Andy Shay, whose squad has now won two straight heading into the crucial stretch of games.
"We played with an edge on defense today," said Shay. "They really wanted it bad. We also made more plays in the middle of the field and finished our shots."
Next up for the Blue is a 2 p.m. Ivy contest at Princeton on Friday afternoon that airs live on ESPNU.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD & Sports Publicity Director – firstname.lastname@example.org