Handsome Dan will be dancing in New Haven tonight.
Yale men’s lacrosse beat the Duke Blue Devils 13-11 in front of an announced crowd of 29,455 at Gillette Stadium to win the program’s first-ever NCAA DI championship. The Bulldogs are the first Ivy League champion since Princeton in 2001.
“It was an absolute battle,” Yale coach Andy Shay said. “We jumped out on them, and they grinded, and we responded by grinding. They made it really hard. They made it really, really hard. I’m really proud of my guys for sticking with it. My guys are just a coach’s dream. Really a coach’s dream in every sense of the word. It’s just unbelievable that they have accomplished this.”
Sophomore attackman Matt Gaudet earned the game’s Most Outstanding Player honors, scoring a game-high four goals, and 10 goals total over Championship Weekend.
“I don’t think my 10 goals this weekend was attributed to anything I did specifically,” Gaudet said. “I honestly could not thank our offensive guys enough and our coach. Hate to admit it, but we are talented, we are talented. Hard work has been the framework for our program, and just the weight room every single day, practice every single day. We’ve been put in these strenuous situations, and our midfielders along with [attackmen] Ben [Reeves] and Jackson [Morrill], even the defensive side of the ball has just worked incredibly hard.”
Senior attackman Ben Reeves finished with one goal and three assists. Sophomore midfielder Jack Tigh also had a big day, scoring a hat trick. Freshman goalie Jack Starr made a game-high nine saves, many of the point-blank variety in crucial moments.
Yale built a tight 6-4 halftime lead, then went toe-to-toe offensively with Duke in the third quarter in the game’s most critical 15 minutes. The Blue Devils and Bulldogs combined for 11 goals in the third, their biggest combined output of the game.
The Bulldogs scored the first three goals of the third, led by Tewaaraton finalist Reeves. The senior scored the first goal of the second half on an unassisted attempt, then fed freshman midfielder Brian Tevlin and Gaudet on goals to push Yale to a 9-4 lead at the 10:14 mark of the quarter.
After Duke’s Justin Guterding and Yale’s Gaudet traded the next two goals, the Blue Devils went on a three-goal run of their own. Attackman Joey Manown and graduate midfielder Peter Conley both scored on unassisted attempts, and a rip from sophomore midfielder Kevin Quigley off of an assist from junior Sean Lowrie brought Duke to within 10-8.
Yale’s Lucas Cotler answered with an unassisted drive from down the left alley to push Yale back up three with 1:36 left, but Guterding answered by sneaking around the crease and scoring on a pass from middie Brad Smith. Off the ensuing face-off, Yale midfielder Jason Alessi scored in transition to make it 12-9 entering the fourth quarter.
“We came out hot in the third quarter, and we knew Duke was going to come out and respond shortly after, and they did,” Reeves said. “They pulled it within two, I think. We were able to make a couple plays late in that third quarter to kind of stretch that lead, and thankfully hold on to it. It’s just an incredible, incredible experience.”
Gaudet scored his fourth goal of the game with 8:11 left in the fourth quarter, off an assist from sophomore Jackson Morrill. Duke added two late, a Joe Robertson rip and a Conley from Manown goal on an extra-man opportunity. Yale killed the clock in the waning minutes, though, and held on for a 13-11 final.
Yale’s offense started the game strong, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first quarter. Bulldog midfielder Jack Tigh scored the game’s first two goals on unassisted drives, taking advantage of the space offered by Duke’s midfield. Sophomore attackman Matt Gaudet scored Yale’s third goal on a rightly rip assisted by sophomore Lucas Cotler with 9:13 left in the quarter.
Duke scored its first goal on an unassisted attempt from sophomore midfielder Kevin Quigley, who cut to the cage from the top right box to the cage and scoring on the low corner to cut Yale’s lead to two by the end of the first quarter.
Yale got a goal back at 12:42 in the second quarter on an extra-man goal from junior attackman Brendan Rooney, who scored on an assist from Colter. Duke scored the next two, a drive Joey Manown from X and an extra-man goal from midfielder Brad Smith assisted by Guterding to make it 5-3 with 7:35 left in the quarter.
Tigh scored his third goal for Yale with 6:47 left in the half, ripping a shot from the top right corner on an assist from Reeves. Duke answered with a Robertson goal after senior LSM Peter Welch fed him the ball off a one-man clear.
Yale attackman Joey Sessa sent the Bulldogs into halftime with a 6-4 lead scoring a goal off a time-in whistle driving Duke’s Welch to the cage from the sideline.