(4) Yale v. (3) Princeton
Yale earned its third Ivy League Tournament title in an 11-10 mind-bender against Princeton. The Elis' victory assures the Bulldogs of a trip to the NCAA Tournament, the program's sixth appearance in The Show and third in the last four seasons. The Tigers fall to 9-6 and are in the unenviable position of pursuing an at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament field, its position on the bubble crowded with a handful of candidates.
The scope of the game changed late in the fourth quarter. Deadlocked at nine, Colin Flaherty took a feed from Conrad Oberbeck and pushed the ball past Tyler Blaisdell, giving Yale a tenuous 10-9 advantage with 6:08 remaining in regulation. The Elis won the ensuing possession and, as Yale matriculated the ball around after a blocked shot from Oberbeck, Zach Currier committed a dangerously high cross-check that provided the Bulldogs with an extra-man opportunity with under 5:00 left on the clock. The Elis quickly converted the personnel imbalance posture into a tally, witnessing Brian Reeves fire a rocket into the twine off of a sharp look from Michael Keasey. The goal would provide the Bulldogs all the scoring the team would need to sink Princeton, but the Tigers were not finished fighting for an extension to their 2015 campaign.
A blown offensive opportunity through a Kip Orban turnover stymied a moment to quickly respond to Yale's cushion, but the Tigers were able to withstand a man-down situation on the consequent defensive possession to clear into the Elis' zone with 1:16 remaining in the final quarter. Mike MacDonald pounded a shot off the pipe with 47 ticks left in the game, but the Tigers were able to recover the ricochet to call a timeout to orchestrate a final charge. Princeton was able to get Ryan Ambler sweeping from left to right in a preferable shooting scenario, but Ambler's attempt sailed high over Eric Natale's head with 38 seconds glowing on the scoreboard. Out of the backup, MacDonald mirrored Ambler's errant approach, pulling from his right to his left with the entire Yale defense draped all over him as the Canadian pounded home a goal that went blew just over the top of Natale's dome to find the back of the net.
Down 11-10 with 27 seconds remaining to win a faceoff and tie the game, Princeton had few options in their toolkit to address its situation. Currier won the proceeding draw to allow the Tigers to take a timeout and find a little heat, but a Currier shot on a hero dodge bounced wide and the team's consequent attempt to jam the ball to the crease with only two seconds to operate didn't find a partner, the bean rolling toward midfield as Yale stormed Stevenson Field to celebrate their heart-stopping triumph.
The excitement of the second half was in contrast to an otherwise uneventful first half. The Ivy peers combined for 29 estimated possessions in the first 20 minutes of the game with Yale converting on around 24 percent of their 17 estimated offensive opportunities and Princeton getting tallies on only about 17 percent of their estimated 12 offensive chances. Turnovers and penalties dominated the first half. The Bulldogs committed giveaways on around 53 percent of their estimated offensive opportunities and the Tigers were worse in the same metric at 58.33 percent; there were more combined turnovers over the course of the first two periods (16) than aggregated shots on goal (14). With respect to infractions, there were almost as many penalties (five) as goals (six) in the first half. Things rapidly changed in the second half with Princeton scoring on north of 55 percent of the team's estimated nine offensive opportunities in the third quarter and Yale clicked on over 37 percent of the eight estimated offensive chances in the same period, each team dropping their turnover rates in important ways in the penultimate quarter as the teams combined for eight goals and entered the final stanza in a 7-7 tie.
Oberbeck finished his day in Providence with two goals and three assists for the Elis, each of his goals drawing the Bulldogs square with the Tigers in the third period. Natale made 10 stops against Princeton's powerful offense and held a 50.00 save percentage. Orban had a four-and-one outing for Princeton, steadying the Tigers with three goals out of the intermission.