Morrill, Reeves Combine for 9 goals, 13 Points
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The winningest class in the long and storied history of Yale Lacrosse walked out of Reese Stadium after a game for the final time with smiles on their eye-blackened faces. Seven goals from Jackson Morrill, 6 points from Ben Reeves and a big faceoff day by Conor Mackie made those smiles possible as the No. 3 seed Bulldogs knocked off a hot UMass squad, 15-13, in a first-round NCAA Tournament contest before a crowd of 1,411.
The class of 2018, which helped Yale move on to the national quarterfinals next Saturday at Hempstead, N.Y., registered its 48th victory today and ended the Minutemen's win streak at 11 games by blowing up a one-goal game in the third quarter with 5 straight scores.
The fourth NCAA Tourney win and first at home since 1990 puts the Elis (14-3) a win away from their first semifinal appearance in 28 years. Loyola, the Blue's 1990 semifinal opponent, stands in the way of that.
"I'm really proud of my guys for grinding out a win," said Yale Head Coach Andy Shay, who was an assistant at UMass before coming to New Haven 15 years ago. "We got a pretty good lead there, and we were trying to come out with a win despite the adversity. Our guys were a little loose with the details early in the game, but we wanted to be able to fight through some adversity."
UMass (12-5) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first three minutes on rain soaked turf that did not see much precipitation after the opening faceoff. Lucas Cotler and Morrill quickly erased Yale's only deficit today.
Cotler faked right and went left over the goalie's shoulder. Morrill, whose 7 tallies are the third most for a player in an NCAA first-round game, the most ever for an Eli in the NCAA Tournament and a career high, ran in from the left wing past a pair of defenders to tie it at 2-2.
"It felt good," said Morrill, whose face was nearly covered in eye black, at the press conference when asked how it felt to score that many goals. "It's very easy to play with the guys we have on our offense. I wasn't trying to do anything crazy."
His day wasn't too crazy. In fact, Yale has had a player (Matt Gaudet vs. Penn) notch 7 in two of the last three games. Today's helped end the nation's longest active win streak.
Morrill and his offensive mates outshot UMass 48-38 because their senior faceoff man won 20 of 29 attempts. Mackie, who bounced back from an ugly, high, penalized hit in the second quarter that made him miss the next battle on the X, had 13 ground balls and outperformed fellow MLL draftee Noah Rak, the school's career faceoff leader.
The Elis, wearing their new blue helmets, turned that early deficit into a 6-5 halftime lead in a game that appeared destined for a last-minute decision. However, with the home team up 7-6, Yale went on that 5-goal run that began with Cotler's second tally and finished with Reeve's lefty launch with 6:25 left in the third that made it 12-6.
Reeves, who on Thursday became just the fifth three-time Tewaaraton Award finalist, had a goal and 3 assists during the decisive run. He leads the team with 53 goals and 96 points, which are 3 shy of the school record set by Jason O'Neill (99 points) in 1990.
Yale had a 13-4 lead late in the earlier meeting at Amherst this season before the home team scored 6 straight in a 13-10 final. Nobody was surprised to see UMass make another run today. The visitors scored 3 consecutive to cut the margin to 14-10 and then reeled off another 3 to end the day's scoring. It was too little and too late as the Bulldogs did a masterful job of running out the clock, making rookie Jack Starr (9 saves) a winner in his first NCAA appearance in net.
Conor Mackie turned things around from the first meeting with UMass where he won just 8 of 24 faceoffs… Jackson Morrill's previous career-high was 5 goals… Jon Reese '90, had the Yale record for goals in an NCAA Tournament game with 6 against Loyola at Rutgers Stadium in the 1990 semifinals... Reeves' 297 career points are now 12th on the NCAA Division I list.
By Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD/Sports Publicity Director – firstname.lastname@example.org