Reeves, Defense Power Yale Over Maryland 8-5
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — There would be no controversy or last-minute drama this time around.
Instead, No. 8 Yale avenged its heartbreaking NCAA tournament first round loss from a year ago. Highlighted by a string of six unanswered goals, the Bulldogs knocked off No. 4 Maryland with an 8-5 victory Saturday in front of a sellout crowd of 3,162 at Reese Stadium.
"It's a big game," senior midfielder Michael Keasey said. "A storied top-10 opponent, a big out-of-conference test for us, it's fun to play them early in the year. We circle this on our calendar, for sure."
Ben Reeves, last year's Ivy League Rookie of the Year, led Yale (2-0) with two goals and an assist. Keasey also scored twice. Matt Rambo finished with a goal and three assist for the Terps (1-1). Maryland won 13 of the 16 faceoffs. But efficiency and patience was key for Yale.
Reeves, who had four goals and three assists in Yale's season-opening win over UMass Lowell, found the back of the net in the closing seconds of the second quarter to tie the game at 3.
Yale found a rhythm from there, the confidence snowballed and the Bulldogs poured it on.
Reeves scored with 3:23 left in the game, polishing off Yale's 6-0 run and giving his team an 8-3 advantage.
It was a game filled with stingy defense, remarkable saves and a few jarring hits.
The Bulldogs bottled up Maryland's attack, holding the Terps to their lowest regular-season output since a 7-4 loss to Johns Hopkins in 2013. That, despite Maryland freshman Austin Henningsen winning 13 of 16 faceoffs. The rookie is now 22-of-28 (.786) through two games on the season.
Credit Yale's defensive unit mixed with the play by goalie Phil Huffard (six saves).
"I think it was a little bit of everything," Maryland coach John Tillman said. "They always play good defense. Yale's done a great job of playing defense, historically. Early in the season, when your execution level isn't going to be at its best, and you have some new parts, and you combine all that, it was a concern. We settled for the first shot and not the best shot."
It may only be February, but Saturday's victory is still a significant one coming against a program that has reached the national title game three times over the last five years. Sure, heading into Saturday, Maryland held an 11-2 lead in the series, which dates back to 1925. But the last few meetings have been filled with excitement.
Start with last season.
There was the controversial miss (or goal, depending on who you ask) by Keasey in the closing seconds of last year's opening round of the NCAA tournament. The play was not reviewable and Maryland went on to win 8-7.
"Nope," said Yale coach Andy Shay, when asked if his team talked about the loss coming into Saturday. "Not even a little bit. Not once."
Yale beat Maryland 10-6 during the regular season last year in New Haven, while Maryland edged the Bulldogs 8-7 in 2013 at Byrd Stadium.
"This may be the last year," said Tillman about the two powers meeting in the regular season. "I know we agreed to come up here twice. I'm not sure if it will continue or not. Not sure if coming up in February is the best thing for us. We have to take a look at it. Obviously, there's been some pretty intense games. There was a good crowd today. We lucked out with the weather. We know Yale's a good team and that's what we want to do, play good teams."
Whether Maryland and Yale make this a regular occurrence remains to be seen. But it's certainly developing into quite the rivalry.
"As an underdog, it's up to them to feel like rivals," Shay said. "We certainly think that. Hopefully they do. It's a fun game for us to play. It's two very good defensive teams. It's a great game to watch."
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