(Photo Courtesy of Yale Athletics)
If you hadn’t been convinced of it already, I’m not sure there is anything more that Andy Shay’s Yale Bulldogs could have done last week to prove that the status quo of Yale being the scariest team in the Ivy League remains.
Yale earned a 22-15 win over Boston U. on Tuesday night and then went on to defeat Dartmouth 23-6 on Saturday. The two impressive offensive performances are just the latest of strong showings that the Bulldogs have put together over the past few weeks.
Since losing to Cornell in their Ivy League opener, it’s been a different Yale that has taken over and, in some respects, taken hold of the college lacrosse world. A 14-12 win over Princeton directly followed that Cornell loss and was called by some the Bulldogs’ best performance up until that time. They then beat Penn 12-11 in overtime before their 2-0 stretch this past week.
In essence, Yale has arrived.
Each of the Bulldogs’ past four wins have featured not only good offensive performances as well as improvement all around, but within that has been one common theme: depth. And that depth is coming from many of those very same players that walked into Tsai Lacrosse Fieldhouse this fall bright-eyed and busy tailed as freshmen or lesser experienced players who hadn’t played much at all in their career up until this season. And that is especially true on the offensive end.
Matt Brandau (28G/25A) has been the go-to man all year and he has delivered, averaging 5.8 points per game at 3.1 goals. Freshman Leo Johnson (20G/8A) has also been right there in the fold as a starter from day one, as well as Brad Sharp (9G/8A).
But for others, it’s been a process to get where they are right now in the season, just as it has been for this Yale team as a whole.
No player represents that better than Chris Lyons. The Medford, N.J., native got his first college action in the loss to Cornell as he netted a hat trick. The next week against Princeton, Lyons earned the starting nod and put up another hat trick. But it was that second start against Penn where he made his biggest mark. Matched up against a short stick on the high wing, Lyons rolled back and put in the overtime winner.
The freshman has since had an eight-point performance (6G/2A) against Boston U. and put up three points (2G/1A) against Dartmouth to make him the Bulldogs’ third-leading point-getter and goal-scorer with 21 points off 17 goals and four assists. And he’s only played in five games thus far.
Lyons may be the best example of what Yale has been this season, but he is far from the only example of improvement and players stepping up on this Bulldogs squad. Freshman Johnny Keib (4G/2A) has emerged as a starter at midfield each of the past three games. Sophomore Patrick Hackler has scored four goals over the past three games, including a two-goal outing against Boston U. Carson Kuhl has also put the same stat like over the past four games, having a two-goal outing against Princeton. Max Kervsky (3G/1A) and Kyle
Even Thomas Bragg, who has been somewhat mainstay all season, has seen his production explode recently. The junior found his stride once again against Boston U., netting a hat trick and dishing out two assists for a season-high five points. He then had a hat trick against Dartmouth.
And with senior Christian Cropp (2G/1A) having been slowly returning from injury with starts against Cornell and Princeton, and an appearance against Dartmouth, another high-potential target could find his sweet spot over the next few weeks.
Three weeks remain in the college lacrosse regular season. For Yale, that means two Ivy League battles as they will travel to Brown this weekend and play arch-rival Harvard on April 30th to close out the season. Games against UAlbany and Quinnipiac lie in between those two contests.
I that time, and as the postseason grows closer, who knows how much better this Yale offense can get and who else may step up?
CAA Craziness is Back!
The CAA is always one of the wildest conferences in college lacrosse, and here in 2022 that hasn’t changed.
Through two weeks of conference play, all but two teams have a 1-1 record. Towson is 2-0 and Delaware is 0-2. Who saw that coming?
Last weekend saw Towson beat UMass 12-9, Hofstra get arguably their biggest win of the season as they beat Delaware 12-11, and Drexel outlast Fairfield 19-18.
What to make of the CAA? I am not quite sure, but I’m not sure anyone knows at this point. With three weeks left in the regular season it’ll be a fun race to watch, as usual.
UMBC’s Offense Explodes
I wasn’t able to watch this game live and didn’t write about it in my Saturday Recap post, so I wanted to touch on it here.
The UMBC Retrievers came into Saturday with a 2-5 record overall and 0-2 record in America East Play. They had also not reached double digits in their first tow conference games against Binghamton and Vermont. But on Saturday something clicked.
Albany might have scored the first goal of the game, but it wasn’t more than two minutes until the Retrievers got going. And once they did, they never let up. UMBC dominated the Danes 16-7. Mind you, this is an Albany team that had just shot the lights out against Syracuse on Thursday night.
Mike Doughty (2G/4A) and Brian Tregoning (3G/3A) led the way with six points each while the Retrievers saw eight other goal-scorers on Saturday as well.
Much has been discussed about UMBC’s defense in recent years, and holding a team to seven goals in the shot clock era is impressive, but the way that offense was able to get going makes you wonder if the Retrievers have turned a corner. With UMass Lowell, Stony Brook, and NJIT left they can certainly build upon Saturday’s win.
Notre Dame Finding Their Stride
It was a rough start to the season for the Irish. Losses to Georgetown, Maryland, and Ohio State, as well as a 12-8 loss at Virginia, put a bad taste in some folks’ mounts about Notre Dame this season. Maybe they just weren’t as good as we all though?
But over the past few weeks, the Irish have reclaimed theirselves and are playing their best lacrosse of the season.
A week after drubbing Syracuse 22-6 in South Bend, the Irish took to the road for another ACC matchup at Duke. And once again, Notre Dame pulled out the win as they defeated the Blue Devils 16-15. Pat Kavanagh seven-point (4G/3A) outing may have led the way and caught headlines, but what intrigued me most about this game was Will Lynch.
The freshman faceoff man has only gotten better as the season has progressed and he had one of his best performances on Saturday, going 16-for-30 (53%) against Duke’s Jake Naso. Lynch proved to a lynchpin (no pun intended) in the Irish’s win.
With a game against North Carolina and rematches against Syracuse and Duke remaining in ACC play, the Irish are starting to look like the second best team in the conference behind only Virginia.
Tanner’s Top 20
I don’t have a vote, but if I did this is what it would look like.
- Notre Dame
- Ohio State
- Army West Point
- North Carolina
- St. Bonaventure