Sports

Late surge lifts men’s lacrosse over the Crimson

Win at home over No. 10 Harvard solidifies Bruno’s place among elite college lacrosse squads

By
Sports Staff Writer
Monday, March 16, 2015

Satuday’s comeback was a complete team effort for the men’s lacrosse team, as 11 players recorded points in the contest.

It may not have been a beautiful day Saturday, but the No. 18 men’s lacrosse team’s victory over No. 10 Harvard was certainly a thing of beauty. Playing through a constant downpour, the Bears (5-0, 1-0 Ivy) recorded their first signature win of the season in front of a boisterous home crowd. After trailing by one at the half, Bruno used a dominant second-half run to put away the Crimson (4-2, 0-1) by a final score of 14-9.

“It means a lot to have beaten Harvard, especially by five goals,” said Henry Blynn ’16. “Although we have a long way to go, this win proves to the rest of the nation that we are a different Brown lacrosse team than in the past.”

“Any win in the Ivy League is a big win,”  said Head Coach Lars Tiffany ’90. “But I am more focused on the process, and I can tell you that I am happy in that regard as well. I like where we are right now. For an early Ivy League game, I loved the energy and team defense.”

The Bears’s offense was paced by the nation’s leading scorer, Dylan Molloy ’17, who had three goals and two assists. The offense came from other sources as well, with juniors Brendan Caputo ’16 and Kylor Bellistri ’16 each contributing two goals and Blynn netting one. But the win would not have been possible without the stellar play of Larken Kemp ’17, who caused eight turnovers and consistently disrupted Harvard’s attack. Kemp even scored a goal of his own in the fourth quarter to push the lead to four, capping off his impressive day.

Saturday’s game did not exactly start the way the Bears would have liked, as they fell into a 2-0 hole midway through the first quarter while the offense sputtered. But with 6:39 remaining in the period, Bruno finally got on the board with Molloy’s first tally of the day. It was all defense the rest of the way, until Caputo netted a goal with just 24 seconds left to knot the score at two.

At the start of the next quarter, the Bears found themselves on the wrong side of a penalty and quickly conceded a goal while a man down. With momentum turned in its favor, Harvard extended its lead to 5-3 after scoring back-to-back goals in a 30-second span. But Bruno remained unfazed, responding nicely with two goals of its own to counter another Crimson tally and leave the score at 6-5 heading into the half. The Bears’ fifth goal was one for the highlight reel, as Bellistri received a pass from Molloy at the top of the circle and then beat the goalie with a nifty behind-the-back shot.

The third quarter was a defensive battle with the Bears coming out on top. After a quick tally by Matt Graham ’16 evened things up, Bruno allowed its only goal of the quarter and then proceeded to clamp down on the Harvard attack. The Bears took their first lead of the day with 6:31 left in the quarter, when Molloy connected and pushed the score to 8-7.

By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the Bears were firing on all cylinders. Just over a minute into the period, Graham and Jake Miller ’18 both scored in a 10-second window, in what Tiffany said was the turning point of the match.

“At the time, it had been a back-and-forth, one-score game, so to open up a three-goal lead, that was really big for us,” he said.

But Harvard quickly brought the score back within two and was given a great opportunity to further the pressure when the Bears committed a pair of crucial penalties at around the five-minute mark. Instead of succumbing to the situation, Bruno kept its up-tempo offense going and netted a shorthanded goal to all but end the Crimson’s hope for a comeback. The Bears eventually extended the lead to five, capping off an impressive late-game surge.

When asked about what made the difference in the second half, Tiffany said, “I felt that the biggest difference was the play on the ground. We picked up most of the ground balls in the second half. We just kept giving ourselves extra opportunities and extra possessions, and in turn, limited Harvard’s opportunities as well.”

Tiffany was also quick to mention the fans’ impact on the game. “I was so impressed that we had such a rabid and rambunctious crowd. I really appreciate all the energy and effort put forth by them. They were great.”

But it was not only the crowd that carried the Bears to victory. Blynn and Tiffany noted several players that stood out to them.

“Will Gural (‘16) won eight of nine face-offs in the fourth quarter. If that doesn’t scream ‘clutch,’ then I don’t know what does,” Blynn said. “His supporting cast of wing players including Larken Kemp, Alec Tulett (’17) and Jake Miller were also fantastic.”

“I want to give credit to our two short-stick defensive midfielders, Nick Weeden (‘15) and Corbin Booker (‘15),” Tiffany said. “It’s a position that gets very little attention. They might not show up on the score card, but I thought their efforts were critical in the victory.”

The Bears will now prepare for a three-game stretch against non-Ivy opponents, starting this Tuesday at home against Bucknell. The Bison are no slouches themselves, having just defeated No. 20 Holy Cross with ease this past weekend.

“After an important win like this, it is easy to become complacent and look back on our success and cherish it,” Blynn said. “However, we understand that it is only one win, and that to stay undefeated, we need to be sharp in practice and to continue to compete against each other.”

“Just coming off a big win, we are going to be feeling pretty good about ourselves,” Tiffany added. “And our job as a team, and my job as a coach, is to remind us how we got here, to make sure that we know that we’ve earned it all by bringing energy and passion to every game.”