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2018 Men’s Lacrosse Year in Review: #1 Yale Bulldogs

Yale took home their first ever NCAA lacrosse championship thanks to a Tewaaraton winner and plenty of other talented stars.

Matt Dewkett

With the 2018 college lacrosse season complete and fall ball just around the corner, it’s time to start looking back at how all 71 teams did during the season, as well as what to expect from each squad for 2019. These are not end of season rankings, as some people might think.

We’re almost done looking back to 2018 with plenty of team recaps thus far and continued our series this week with Loyola, Johns Hopkins, Albany, Maryland, and Duke.

So with that, let’s conclude with out summer-long series of recaps!

#1 Yale Bulldogs

Conference: Ivy League
2018 Record: 17-3 (7-0 in Ivy League play)
Postseason: Defeated Penn in Ivy League semifinal, lost to Cornell in Ivy League championship, defeated UMass, Loyola, Albany, and Duke to win NCAA National Championship
Head coach: Andy Shay (15th Year)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Ben Reeves (62)
Assists: Ben Reeves (53)
Points: Ben Reeves (115)
Faceoffs: Conor Mackie (290-of-464; 62.5%)
Ground balls: Conor Mackie (191)
Caused turnovers: Christopher Keating (25)
Goals against average: Jack Starr (8.43 GAA)
Save percentage: Jack Starr (47.7%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: A Ben Reeves (62 Gs, 53 As, 28 GBs), D Christopher Keating (59 GBs, 25 CTs, 1 A), SSDM Tyler Warner (48 GBs, 16 CTs, 3 Gs, 1 A), FOGO Conor Mackie (62.5% draws, 191 GBs, 3 Gs), D Jerry O’Connor (23 GBs, 22 CTs), M/SSDM Jason Alessi (6 Gs, 7 As, 24 GBs, 3 CTs)
Senior scoring departing: 138 of 437 points (31.6%)
Senior starts lost: 66 of 200 (33%)

Season Summary

Not counting the one they shared with Harvard and Princeton in 1883, Yale finally won their first ever men’s lacrosse national championship. They were alone on top of the lacrosse world in 2018, thanks to an offense led by a Tewaaraton winner and a tough and gritty defense that included two freshmen, one of them in goal.

But it wasn’t all pretty to start. The Bulldogs dropped their first game in Frisco, Texas to Villanova in overtime. The Wildcats scored twice in the final 5:26 of regulation before Danny Seibel scored the game-winner with 20 seconds left in overtime. They were in another battle the following week, this time against Michigan at home. But Yale pulled away late for a four-goal win before beating UMass. The Yale Bulldogs needed another fourth quarter run to get by the Bryant Bulldogs a few days later before going on a 6-1 second half to defeat Fairfield and enter Ivy League play.

The Bulldogs closed out the third quarter against Cornell on a 4-0 run and a two-goal lead before the Big Red began the final period on a 3-0 run. Yale matched their run thanks to goals from John Daniggelis and two tallies from Reeves to start conference play at 1-0. They doubled up on Princeton and Penn in their next two contests before batting Bucknell in another midweek game. The Bison came out of the third quarter strong with the first four goals and a two-tally lead. But although Yale tied the game with the only two goals in the final quarter, Bucknell’s Sean O’Brien scored to give the Bison the upset and a really good win for their at-large resume. That didn’t make Yale happy, as they’d go on and win their last five games and score at least 14 goals in those contests, highlighted by a dominating effort against Albany.

After putting up 21 on Penn in the Ivy League semifinals, the Bulldogs fell short of an Ivy League championship in a 14-8 loss to Cornell. Once again, Yale was on a mission. And one more loss meant the end of the road for many of the Bulldog seniors. They made Championship Weekend after wins over UMass and Loyola and once again met Albany. Similar to the first meeting, Yale took care of the Great Danes, scoring the first seven goals of the game and leading 12-5 at halftime, essentially ending the game after those 30 minutes. They’d end up scoring 20. In the national championship game against Duke, the Bulldogs once again got off to a good start in the opening quarter by scoring the game’s first three goals. And every time Duke tried to get back into the game, Yale stymied their chances, including late in the contest, to take home with a national title for the program. They became the first team to lose their first game but win a national title since Duke did it in 2013. The hardware continued a few days later with Ben Reeves being named the winner of the men’s Tewaaraton Award.

Reeves along with sophomores Jackson Morrill and Matt Gaudet comprised of the starting attack for most of the season. All three had at least 40 goals on the year, while Reeves (115) and Morrill (72) notched a ton of points. Junior Brendan Rooney was relied on as a key piece of the man-up unit. The starting midfield mainly consisted of juniors Jack Tigh, Joey Sessa, and John Daniggelis. Sophomore Lucas Cotler, who also saw some time at attack, freshman Brian Tevlin, and junior Ted Forst saw time on the second unit.

Joining seniors Christopher Keating and Jerry O’Connor at close defense was freshman Chris Fake, who recorded 18 caused turnovers in his first year with the Bulldogs. Sophomore Aidan Hynes was the fourth defenseman after overcoming an early-season injury. Junior Robert Mooney was the top LSM on Yale with sophomore Will Weitzel as the guy behind him. Seniors Tyler Warner and Jason Alessi, who also provided some offense, spearheaded a talented group of SSDMs that also included sophomore Will Renz and even Douglas Pula at times. Conor Mackie won 62.5% of his faceoff draws as a senior and freshman keeper Jack Starr had a good first season with an 8.43 goals against average.

Looking Ahead

There will certainly be some changes to the Bulldog personnel coming in 2019. The biggest loss is Ben Reeves at attack. Morrill and Gaudet return to the starting lineup and can get some support with Rooney filling that role or possibly Cotler moving down from midfield. Both midfield lines are also back.

Fake is the only returning starter at close defense. Hynes started some games as a freshman two years ago and will probably get a starting spot for the spring. Perhaps Will Sullivan or Donald Ahrens could be an option for the third starting spot. Warner and Alessi graduating leaves a large hole to fill at SSDM, but at least Will Renz returns. Jack Starr is back in goal while Mackie departs from the faceoff X, but Yale has a pretty good replacement in Albany transfer TD Ierlan.

Here’s who the Bulldogs will be adding to their roster for next year.

Yale’s Official Class of 2018

Player Position High School
Player Position High School
Spencer Alston Defense/LSM South Lakes (VA)
Jack Biestek Defense Cardinal Gibbons (NC)
Thomas Bragg Attack Cazenovia (NY)
Matt Brandau Attack Boys' Latin (MD)
Konrad Collins Midfield Summit (OR)
Bryce De Muth Defense Avon Grove (PA)
Greg Gatto Midfield Ridgefield (CT)
Sean Kuttin Midfield Chaminade (NY)
Miles Leniw Goalie Delbarton (NJ)
Brady McDermott Attack Brighton (NY)
Joe Neumann Midfield/FO Salisbury (CT)
Jack Ocken Midfield Brunswick School (CT)
Elliott Sawyer-Kaplan Midfield Choate Rosemary Hall (CT)
Jake Wornow Midfield Westfield (NJ)

Poll

How many wins will Yale get in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    0-10
    (4 votes)
  • 19%
    11-12
    (11 votes)
  • 31%
    13-14
    (18 votes)
  • 42%
    15+
    (24 votes)
57 votes total Vote Now