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2019 Men’s College Lacrosse Year In Review: #2 Yale Bulldogs

Yale looked to be the first repeat champion since Duke did it in 2013 and 2014.

Matt Dewkett

With the 2019 college lacrosse season complete, it’s time to look back at how all 73 teams did during the season, along with an early look at each squad for 2020.

Note: These are not end of season rankings.

Here’s our last five Year In Review posts we’ve done:

To see all of our posts, check out the 2019 Year In Review section on the site.

Let’s continue our 2019 Year In Review with the teams that advanced to Championship Weekend!

#2 Yale Bulldogs

Conference: Ivy League
2019 Record: 15-4 (5-1 in Ivy League)
Postseason: Lost to Penn in Ivy League Championship, defeated Georgetown, Penn, and Penn State in NCAA Tournament, lost to Virginia in NCAA Championship
Head coach: Andy Shay (16th Season)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Matt Gaudet (51)
Assists: Jackson Morrill (48)
Points: Jackson Morrill (94)
Faceoffs: TD Ierlan (393-of-519; 75.7%)
Ground balls: TD Ierlan (293)
Caused turnovers: Aidan Hynes (24)
Goals against average: Jack Starr (11.52)
Save percentage: Jack Starr (45.5%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: M Jack Tigh (31 Gs, 18 As, 21 GBs, 2 CTs), M Joseph Sessa (13 Gs, 23 As, 21 GBs, 6 CTs), M John Daniggelis (21 Gs, 9 As, 30 GBs, 9 CTs), A Brendan Rooney (19 Gs, 2 As, 6 GBs), LSM Robert Mooney (8 CTs, 14 GBs, 2 Gs, 1 A)
Senior scoring departing: 146 of 474 points (30.8%)
Senior starts lost: 71 of 190 (37.4%)

Season Summary

After winning their first NCAA National Championship in 2018, Yale looked to become the first team to repeat since Duke did so earlier in the decade.

But similar to their start last season, the Bulldogs lost their opening game in overtime to Villanova. Only this time it was at Reese Stadium. Their road didn’t get easier with Penn State coming to New Haven and roaring after scoring 17 or more goals in each of the first three games of their season. Despite a Nittany Lion comeback, Yale held on late for the one-goal win with TD Ierlan winning all but six faceoffs as well as seven points from Jackson Morrill. The Bulldogs also had a lead in the fourth quarter against UMass a week later, but the Minutemen scored twice in the final 41 seconds to force overtime. Matt Gaudet scored the game-winner in the extra session to help push Yale to 2-1 overall.

After beating Michigan in Atlanta, the Bulldogs began Ivy League play with a win over Cornell in their conference opener before coming back in the second half to beat Princeton. In both of those games, freshman Matt Brandau recorded eight and six points respectively and looking like one of the best first-year players in the entire country. Following a win over Air Force, Yale was able to take a late lead against Penn down in Philadelphia. But for the second time on the season, the Bulldogs gave up the tying goal with a second left in regulation, this time to Tyler Dunn. The game would need three overtimes before Sam Handley put home the winning goal to upset Yale.

The reigning champs would win their final five regular season games, including victories over Brown and Albany, to head into the Ivy League Tournament. Yale was able to defeat Cornell for a second time to end the Big Red’s season, but were unable to get past Penn to win the Ivy League title. The Quakers broke an 11-11 tie with 4:52 left in regulation on Sean Lulley’s goal to give Penn their first conference crown since 2014. But when the bracket came out, Yale saw they would potentially face the Quakers one more time in the quarterfinals if all went right.

And everything did go right for both teams. Yale got off to a hot start in the first quarter against Georgetown despite giving up 16 goals and met Penn in East Hartford. The Bulldogs looked to have sealed their second straight trip to Championship Weekend with a two-goal lead with under a minute to go. But goals from Dunn with 47 seconds left and Simon Mathias’ game-tying score with five ticks to go forced overtime for the second time this year. It only needed one extra session in their third meeting, which went Yale’s way thanks to Jack Tigh slipping on the grass, finding the loose ball, and then scoring past Reed Junkin for the thrilling overtime win.

The Bulldogs had another huge start in the first quarter, this time in their second meeting with Penn State. Yale scored 10 times in the first quarter en route to a 21-17 win. Brandau finished with a career-high seven goals in the win. Only Virginia was left standing between back-to-back national titles. Yale scored 10 or more goals in every game throughout the entire season, except for the National Championship. The Bulldogs scored nine times and never took a lead after scoring the first goal of the game, as the Cavaliers ended Yale’s repeat bid in a 13-9 win.

Morrill and Gaudet started all 19 games at attack with senior Brendan Rooney getting the nod as the third starter for most of the season. But Brandau’s immediate scoring ability as a freshman was unmatched and started five games, including the homestretch of the season. He finished second on the team in goals (50), assists (24), and points (74). The starting midfield consisted of Tigh, Joey Sessa, and John Daniggelis, all seniors. The second midfield unit included Brian Tevlin and his 35 points, which were the second most for a Yale midfielder. Lucas Cotler, Christian Cropp, and Ted Forst were also part of the second midfied unit.

The trio of Chris Fake, Aidan Hynes, and Will Weitzel started in all 19 games at close defense for the Bulldogs. After a sophomore season that saw him injured and contributing in more of a reserve role, Hynes returned to the dominant form he had as a freshman with a team-high 24 caused turnovers. Robert Mooney, Bryce De Muth, and Brian Ward were the long stick defenders, while Will Renz, Luke Eschbach, Jack Ocken, and even Sessa, Daniggelis, Tevlin, and other offensive midfielders played as shorties on defense. Ierlan was nearly unstoppable at the faceoff X with freshman Joe Neuman behind him, and goalie Jack Starr did have some ups and downs during his sophomore season and finished with a 45.5% save percentage.

Looking Ahead

Like they have for the past handful of seasons, Yale should be competitive not only in the Ivy League, but throughout the entire country.

Rooney is the only senior departing, but that loss doesn’t hurt that much with Brandau coming into the mix. Rooney was one of Yale’s key man-up specialists however. The entire first midfield graduates with Tevlin, Cotler, Cropp, and others expected to see larger roles.

The entire starting close defense stays with Mooney the only long stick midfielder graduating. The rest of the defense is pretty much the save, with Starr looking like the top goalie for the Bulldogs unless someone like Brody Wilson or Miles Leniw can snatch the job in the fall.


How many wins will Yale get in 2020?

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  • 3%
    (2 votes)
  • 5%
    (3 votes)
  • 51%
    (27 votes)
  • 38%
    (20 votes)
52 votes total Vote Now