SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Yale lacrosse team did almost everything better than No. 3 ranked Syracuse at the Carrier Dome tonight in a prime-time TV, first-round NCAA game. The No. 15 Bulldogs had more shots (42-29) and won more ground balls (33-20) and face-offs (18-4) than the school with the most lacrosse national titles. However, the Elis came up one goal shy in an 11-10 thriller before 3,569 that put an end to a championship-filled 2017 season.
On a night when junior Ben Reeves became Yale’s career points leader with four goals and two assists, and classmate Conor Mackie dominated on the face-off X, the underdog Bulldogs played with enough confidence and skill to register a bigtime knockout. They were just missing the finishing touches on a masterpiece.
The Elis had a 7-4 advantage early in the third during a four-goal run that began midway through the second.
That became an 8-6 lead late in the third quarter, but that evaporated with a four-goal Orangemen surge. That’s when Reeves decided to show the country why he is a two-time Tewaaraton finalist. Down 10-8, the Macedon, N.Y., native, ran to his left on the perimeter, got his hands free and released a lefty rocket to the top of the net with 7:12 left.
Mackie won the ensuing face-off and set up Reeves to run out from the left side and then bounce a shot through the legs of Evan Molloy with 6:01 remaining to knot the score at 10-10. That tally was the one that put Reeves on top of the career points list.
Stephen Rehfuss’ off-angle, rising shot found the net with 2:09 left to put Syracuse ahead by a goal. Mackie did his job again to give the Bulldogs (10-6) one last shot at sending this classic lacrosse game to extra time. Eric Scott had a shot with 65 seconds left that was blocked and a teammate got the ground ball. Reeves attempted to pass it low and it got knocked down by a defender’s stick before Molloy grabbed the ground ball.
The Orange, who played in their 11th one-goal game of the season, cleared it and then called timeout before running out the last seconds of the clock to improve their record to 13-2.
The Bulldogs got two goals each from Matt Gaudet and Lucas Cotler. Joseph Sessa and Jackson Morrill (2 points) also hit the net.
Conor Mackie was simply amazing tonight. He won 18 of 22 battles on the X, including 13 straight. The Cuse used two different players against him, but could not figure out how to get possessions. His play enabled the Elis to hold the home team to 10 shots in the first half. “Mackie was fundamental and he stuck with his fundamentals all day,” said Yale head coach Andy Shay. “He’s one of the best faceoff guys in the country when he does that. He was very diligent. I’m proud of his effort”
There are a lot of common letters in those two last names, and with good reason. One was chasing the other for the Yale career points lead, until tonight. Jon Reese ’90, the son of a former Syracuse lacrosse star (Walter Reese), had 200 points over his four seasons before the days of the Tewaaraton Award. Junior Ben Reeves now has 201 points. Reese is the also the career leader with 162 goals, while Reeves is third with 112. Shay said, “Ben was great. He’s our best player and leader and I thought he had a good day. He was patient, he showed his speed today. I was really proud of his effort.”
The Elis had 15 of the first 18 (and 20/25) shots taken… When the score was tied at 4-4, the shots were 25-8 in favor of the Blue… Yale had a huge EMO kill in the third when Aidan Hynes caused a turnover and Charlie Better grabbed the loose ball… Phil Huffard made a big save on Matt Lane in the fourth on an EMO… Walter, Handsome Dan XVIII, made the trip to Syracuse yesterday to support his team in the tournament…. The temperature inside the Dome tonight fluctuated between 53 and 55 degrees.
Former Yale captain Brendan Gibson ’10, who had 95 goals and 141 points for Coach Shay, joined the Bulldogs today in the Carrier Dome for the afternoon shoot around. Gibson was an Army Specialist who trained soldiers to serve in Afghanistan and is now in law school at St. John’s.
By Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD & Sports Publicity Director – email@example.com