It took four periods of overtime for the men’s lacrosse team and Yale to settle the score at Stevenson Field Friday night. But in a game with Ivy League playoff implications, the Bulldogs’ (6-4, 3-2 Ivy League) Deron Dempster finally found a breakthrough after 14 minutes of scoreless extra time to lift Yale to the 11-10 win. Brown goalie Will Round ’14 turned in his strongest performance of the year, making 17 saves – seven of which came in the overtime periods – while a balanced offensive attack was paced by a hat trick from Sam Hurster ’14.
The win for the Elis clinches them a spot in the Ivy League playoffs, while the Bears (4-7, 1-3) are now on the outside looking in. To claim the fourth and final spot in the postseason, Brown must do its part by winning its last two Ivy games against No. 5 Cornell (9-1, 4-0) and Dartmouth (2-8, 0-4), while also getting some help from Harvard (6-6, 2-2), who must lose its final two games against Princeton (8-3, 4-0) and Yale.
After the game, the Bears’ faces looked forlorn, but Head Coach Lars Tiffany ’90 said the drawn-out loss left him with a silver lining.
“These two teams – the differences are miniscule,” Tiffany said. “It’s a balance of certainly being disappointed … but my main objective as Brown head lacrosse coach is to build difference makers and leaders, and that’s happening.”
“We have gotten so much better as a lacrosse team this year,” he went on. “I’ve seen such great progress that despite the fact that the four overtime loss is emotionally devastating, there’s a lot of pride.”
Though staunch defensive efforts from both squads in sudden-death overtime prolonged the thrilling game, both offenses clicked early. The Bulldogs jumped out to a hot start with a pair of quick goals from Matt Gibson, who scored a game-high five goals. The Bears answered with a goal from attackman George Sherman ’13, but Dempster’s first of the game made it 3-1 Yale only six minutes into the game.
Hurster cut the lead to 3-2 with an unassisted goal after fighting through traffic in front of net, but on the Bears’ next possession, what looked to be Hurster’s second was waved off for a crease violation.
Yale built a 6-2 lead by capitalizing on several Brown mistakes on defense. Conrad Oberbeck had an easy finish from close range after Brown defenseman Phil Pierce ’14 turned the ball over under pressure behind the net. Less than a minute later, Gibson completed his first-half hat trick after scooping up a ground ball in front of net and dumping it in goal.
Early in the second quarter, a Roger Ferguson ’13 turnover in the Bears’ own half led to another Gibson goal. But down by four, the defense settled down and the offense kicked into gear. Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Week Nick Piroli ’15 answered Gibson 14 seconds later off a nice find from Hurster.
Hurster’s second of the game clanged in off the post, and co-captain Parker Brown ’12 scored two minutes later thanks to a hidden ball trick play. Midfielder Dan Mellynchuck ’14 feigned a flip to a passing teammate, and as he delayed, the defense followed the man who they mistakenly believed had the ball. Mellynchuck then dumped the ball off to Piroli, who found Parker Brown for an easy finish on the doorstep. With 13 seconds left in the half, John DePeters ’13 cut the lead to 7-6 after he scooped up his initial shot that had been blocked and beat Yale goalie Jack Meyer on his second attempt.
“The offense made so many plays for us,” Tiffany said. “We were down 7-3, and the offense just didn’t stop. They just kept peppering the goalie with shots on the cage.”
In the third quarter, Bruno tied it up on Parker Brown’s second goal of the game. The senior scooped up a deflected shot right in front of the net and finished unbeknownst to Meyer, who failed to locate the ball. But Yale snapped the four-goal Brown run, retaking the lead 8-7 with 7:11 to play in the quarter. Hurster quickly tied the game again with his third goal, and the Bears took their first lead of the game with 2:23 left in the period on a pinpoint strike from distance from co-captain Rob Schlesinger ’12.
Yale looked to kill the Brown momentum when it tied the game 9-9 with only 12 seconds left in the third. But after scooping up a ground ball, Schlesinger’s last-second heave from nearly midfield somehow made its way through traffic in front of net and past Meyer to give the Bears a 10-9 lead headed into the final quarter of play.
“I told the team that’s proof why you never give up, no matter what the situation is,” Tiffany said. “Faceoff with 11 seconds left – that groundball might not be that meaningful. Well, that’s why every second you’re on that field, you make every play you can.”
But that goal would be the final one for the Bears. In the fourth quarter, both defenses tightened up and neither goalie refused to give any ground. But with just over four minutes remaining, Oberbeck found the equalizer for Yale on a pinpoint finish from a tight angle.
In the final minutes of regulation, Yale had one shot clang off the crossbar, and Round made a great save on another attempt to deny the Elis the game-winner in the final minute. Yale got one more possession after Ferguson turned the ball over with 24 seconds left. The Bulldogs called a timeout, but Ferguson atoned for his mistake, breaking up the play and not allowing Yale to get off a final shot.
In the first sudden death overtime, Round made three saves. The Bears had the best chance of the period, but the shot from close range was kicked away by Meyer. In the second overtime, Round made the save of the game, stopping an uncontested Yale shot from the doorstep.
“When he made that save, I’ll admit, I had a sensation that we were going to win,” Tiffany said. “Obviously, that wasn’t the end result, but I love Will Round for playing his biggest game in the biggest moment in the overtime periods.”
The Bulldogs came close again, as a shot this time beat Round but could not beat the post. The Bears had two chances at the end of the period, but Meyer made a big save wit
h 20 seconds left. In the final seconds, Brown had a breakaway chance, but Piroli could not get a shot off before the clock expired.
In overtime number three, Yale won the faceoff and skimmed the crossbar with a long-distance shot. Round and Meyer then traded saves, as neither was ready to leave the field just yet.
But in the fourth overtime, something finally gave. With 1:43 left in the period, Dempster’s shot finally cracked Round’s code and sent Yale to the 11-10 win after nearly 75 minutes of lacrosse.
“I told the team that on this planet, you don’t deserve anything – you earn it,” Tiffany said. “But we came as close to deserving a win as I’ve been when it didn’t happen, because of four quarters and four overtimes of just absolute all-out commitment.”
The Bears will travel to Ithaca Saturday to take on perennial powerhouse and reigning Ivy champion Cornell. But before resuming Ivy action, Bruno must turn its focus to an inter-city bout against Providence (1-10) Tuesday night with the Ocean State Cup at stake.