Win over No. 9 Tigers caps off strong break

Bears one of two remaining undefeated teams in Ivy League after notching weekend wins

Sports Editor
Monday, March 30, 2015

After suffering its first loss to Bucknell in overtime, the No. 12 men’s lacrosse team rebounded with three wins over the break, topping Manhattan, Marist and No. 9 Princeton.

Bruno (8-1, 2-0 Ivy) began its vacation with a blowout against the Jaspers (0-10, 0-2) 22-9. After conceding the first goal, the Bears refocused, eventually leading 18-4 midway through the third before a late run brought Manhattan closer by the final buzzer. Though the nine-goal output was a season high for the Jasper offense, it has only allowed more than 22 goals to one team: No. 4 North Carolina, which scored 26.

The win was a team effort, as 13 Bears found the back of the net. Kylor Bellistri ’16 and Henry Blynn ’16 led the way with four goals apiece, while the nation’s leading scorer, Dylan Molloy ’17, scored just twice.

“I liked our reaction” to the Bucknell loss, said Head Coach Lars Tiffany ’90. “I certainly enjoyed the way we prepared for Manhattan,” he added.

“Any time as a team when you take your first loss, you have a lot to learn about yourselves,” said Larken Kemp ’17.

Three days later, the Bears faced a much stiffer challenge in Marist (6-3, 3-0). The Red Foxes are a strong outfit, receiving votes but not making the final cut in the most recent United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll, in which coaches rank the top 20 teams in the division.

It was a tale of two games for Bruno: The Bears jumped out to an 11-2 lead midway through the second quarter, but they were outscored 13-4 for the rest of regulation as the Red Foxes took control. But in overtime, Bellistri outmaneuvered goalie Dave Scarcello while the Bears were a man up to seal the victory.

Undoubtedly the biggest contest of the Bears’ season so far was a Sunday visit to Princeton, which Kemp described as a “notoriously tough place to play.” But the Bears gutted out a 10-8 win to become one of just two teams undefeated in Ivy play along with No. 7 Cornell.

The game was atypical for Bruno ­— Molloy was held scoreless for the first time this season, and the Bears scored just 10 goals, their second-lowest total of the season.

But the defense and goalie Jack Kelly ’16 had their best game of the year. Princeton’s offense ranks 11th in the country, scoring an average of 12.57 goals per game. But Bruno limited them to eight as Kelly, who Kemp said was “lights-out,” made 15 saves on 23 shots. The 65.2 save percentage was his fourth-best of the year, trailing only behind his efforts in blowout wins over Quinnipiac, Hartford and Manhattan, in which he was removed early.

“This win in particular gave us more confidence because we didn’t win in our normal fashion,” Tiffany said. “We were able to win with a really strong defensive effort and great goalie play.”

“We played a lot of defense,” he added. “Kelly was superb in goal, and the defense in front of him endured so many charges.”

“This week was huge for us,” Kemp said. “We were able to bounce back.”

Changes in the team’s strategy between games depend largely on the other team’s tactics, Tiffany said, noting that the Bears react to “what they’re going to try to take away and what they’re going to give us.”

“We don’t have too much of a different game plan,” he said. “We have enough weapons that there aren’t just two different guys that you stop and then you stop Brown.”

The team is “more focused on (itself)” than it has been in past years, Tiffany added. “I’ve seen the difference in the men’s emotional preparation for each game, and it’s a positive difference.”

With the victory over the Tigers, the Bears have already matched their overall and Ivy League win totals from 2014.

The team tries “to play Brown lacrosse” at every game, which is “one of the biggest changes this year from last year,” Kemp said.

“We’ve been sticking to who we are,” he added.