March 11, 2014

Yale Dominates in Non-Conference Win Over Lehigh

by Justin Lafleur | For LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

No. 18 Yale rebounded from an OT loss to Fairfield in a big way, dominating No. 15 Lehigh on Tuesday night in New Haven, Conn. (Justin Lafleur/Lehigh Athletics)

New Haven, Conn. - Lehigh won the opening faceoff after a 26-second battle for possession that ended in a Jimmy Cahill groundball and Yale penalty.

That was the first, and last, time the Mountain Hawks had momentum.

The Bulldogs killed off the man advantage and went on to score the first four goals on their way to a 10-2 win on Tuesday evening in a battle of two-time defending league champions - Lehigh out of the Patriot League and Yale from the Ivy League.

"I'm very proud of the performance," Yale head coach Andy Shay said. "I think the guys had a sour taste in their mouth after the Fairfield game, and they wanted to get back out there against somebody."

Yale finished the game with a 39-17 edge in shots as the Mountain Hawks struggled to generate quality chances. The Bulldogs finished with only three saves on the evening, which all came in the fourth quarter with the game already in hand.

Yale responded from a tough overtime loss to Fairfield Saturday in a big way.

"Give a lot of credit to Yale. They took the game to us today," said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. "They played harder, they played tougher. They played with more of a chip on their shoulder than we did. Our guys just failed to show up. I told Coach Shay they might have gotten more out of practicing than playing Lehigh tonight."

Lehigh's defense wasn't on its game, but it still held a strong Bulldogs offense to 10 goals. The bigger story of the game was scoring just two goals and generating only 17 shots (including just six in the first half).

A trio of Yale players scored two goals apiece, led by two goals and two assists from Brandon Mangan.

"We played unselfishly, got out there right away and got the pace going," said Mangan. "They were predicted to have one of the best defenses in the country, but we didn't let that stop us. We played our game instead of letting them dictate the tempo."

The Bulldogs pressured Lehigh attackmen, midfielders and defensemen all game long. That relentless pressure forced the Mountain Hawks to seven failed clears on 19 attempts.

Alan Henderson pulled the Mountain Hawks 4-1 at 11:28 of the second quarter to give Lehigh some life. It was short lived. Yale's Dylan Levings won the ensuing faceoff and went all the way in for the score to make it 5-1 just nine seconds later.

"I think that goal was a band aid, to be honest with you," said Cassese. "We failed to take care of the details tonight. We just didn't play well and they played really well. Give them all the credit. Yale outplayed us in every facet of the game. I sensed it midway through the first half that we didn't have it today."

After Levings' goal, Lehigh held Yale scoreless for the next 11:19. Going into halftime, the Mountain Hawks were down just four. However, the Bulldogs scored less than two minutes into the third quarter and never let Lehigh back in the game.

Everything was going for Yale. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, defenseman Jimmy Craft saw an open goal from 75 yards away as the Mountain Hawks were implementing a 10-man ride trying to force a turnover. The Bulldogs captain fired a shot that made it past the outstretched reach of Lehigh goalie Matt Poillon who made a leaping attempt back towards goal.

"We knew that they were really aggressive in the ride and they were going into a 10-man ride, which would bring the goalie out of the net," said Craft. "We practiced it all week. It gave us an open look at the goal, and figured I'd shoot it."

Lehigh broke a 38:58 scoreless drought with an extra man goal late in the fourth quarter to account for the 10-2 final.

"This was just a great team effort," said Craft, the Yale captain. "Coach Baxter did a great job getting us ready to play these guys (on short rest). Saturday was a setback for us, so today we just went back to our guns: process, communicated and everybody was on the same page, talking all day. It was a good stepping-stone for us."

Yale faces a tough test on Saturday, traveling to Cornell to face the #8 Big Red before hosting #16 Princeton the following Saturday (Mar. 22).

Lehigh will look to bounce back when it hosts Navy on Saturday.

"We need to play with a whole lot more urgency," said Cassese. "We need to play better. We need to take care of the details. We need to pass and catch. We need to pick up groundballs. We need to not miss the cage by five yards. We need to do all of the details a lot better.

"The schemes wouldn't have made a difference tonight," Cassese continued. "It didn't matter what we ran on offense or called on defense; our guys weren't moving the way they should move. For us, we need to play a whole lot better and we have a short turnaround to do it."


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