(3) Princeton v. (2) Cornell
Princeton may have caused some agita not only in the Ivy League but also across the Division I landscape in the Tigers' 11-7 victory over Cornell in the first semifinal of the Ivy League Tournament. The loss creates some issues for the Red as the NCAA Tournament looms and the win propels the Tigers perilously close to snatching an invitation to The Show despite starting the week as a dark horse candidate to earn an at-large selection to May's most important field.
Everything was pretty normal at Stevenson Field early in the second quarter: A Connor Buczek man-up goal earned from a Matt Donovan assist drew the Red within one of the Tigers with 13:27 remaining in the first half. Princeton had used a hot start to build its early advantage over Cornell, witnessing Gavin McBride and Mike MacDonald combine for four points over the game's first 15:12 to steady the Tigers toward its slim advantage. The Buczek bucket, though, did not signal a rush from the Red, instead standing as the bookmark for a 31:01 scoring drought from Cornell that lasted until 12:26 remained in regulation. The Big Red's inability to breach Princeton's cage -- Cornell took just 13 shots in its dead period with Tyler Blaisdell turning away six attempts on his protected twine -- allowed the Tigers to go to work: Four consecutive tallies from Princeton in around 20 minutes garnered the Tigers an 8-3 lead, the eight tallies enough to sustain Princeton in its upset victory.
The Red, however, weren't quite finished fighting when the team fell behind by five goals with 17:03 remaining in regulation. Cornell popped for four goals in the final stanza, those markers sandwiched around a MacDonald bucket midway through the fourth quarter. The rush from Cornell pulled the Big Red within 7-9 of Princeton with 3:17 left on the clock, but that margin would be as close as Cornell would get to their archrivals the rest of the way: An academic goal from MacDonald pushed the margin out to three and a Zach Currier score 45 seconds later sent Cornell back to Upstate New York to await the team's fate.
MacDonald finished his afternoon with four goals and two assists while Blaisdell made 14 stops for the Tigers. Buczek led Cornell with two hammers on 11 shots.
(4) Yale v. (1) Brown
Yale shutout Brown for the final 29:45 of regulation and scored the last eight goals of the game to progress to the Ivy League Tournament final on the strength of a 10-6 triumph. The Bulldogs spotted the Bears three goals in the first quarter and didn't get on the board until 16:54 into the match, slowly hammering the brick while Brown pivoted from its hot start to something resembling a snuffed candle. Yale may have cemented itself as an NCAA Tournament participant with its victory and will have an opportunity to remove all doubt regarding its candidacy on Sunday. The Bears, contrastingly, are now subject to the whims and preferences of the producers of The Show, hoping that its bubble situation falls in the right direction.
The arc of the game is probably best illustrated through the progression of offensive efficiency of both teams as the game unfolded. Brown dominated estimated possession margin in the contest (Bruno was an estimated plus-13 against the Bulldogs and were in a negative possession position in only one period (the Bears were minus-one against Yale in the final quarter)), but after a woefully slow start, the Elis were able to summit the mountain through a pragmatic improvement that ran opposite of the Bears' volition at Stevenson Field:
|FINAL GOALS/ESTIMATED OFFENSIVE POSSESSIONS||6/44||10/31|
Where Brown started, Yale ended. Bruno had a chance to absolutely swamp the Elis in the first 30 minutes of the game -- the team ended the half with a plus-nine estimated possession margin -- but the team's weak offensive efficiency -- partly attributable to six saves from Eric Natale -- failed to maximize the Bears' advantages, thus keeping Yale in the game and offering the opportunity for the Bulldogs to accelerate when Bruno was unable to create any kind of sustainable offense (Brown took only seven shots in the second half -- three in the fourth quarter -- while committing 11 turnovers over the same portion of the game, six of which were forced). Yale deserves a ton of credit for shutting down Brown when the Elis could have powered down after a horrendous opening 15 minutes, and the Elis will enjoy the fruits of their labor with a chance to attack Princeton on the second most important date on the lacrosse calendar.