Sports

Men’s lacrosse advances to NCAA quarterfinals

Bruno to face Navy after toppling Johns Hopkins in 17-8 win

By
senior staff writer
Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Behind a third-quarter offensive outburst, the fifth-seeded men’s lacrosse team cruised to a 17-8 victory over Johns Hopkins in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday.

The Bears (15-2) took a 6-2 lead into halftime but put the contest well out of reach in the third frame, outscoring the Blue Jays 8-1. It was a positive sign for Bruno a week after letting the game slip away in the third against Harvard in the Ivy League semifinals.

Leading the way for the Bears were the usual suspects: Dylan Molloy ’17, the nation’s leading scorer, tallied eight points, and Henry Blynn ’16 matched Molloy’s four goals. The Bears dominated at the face-off X as Will Gural ’16 won 16 of 20 and added two goals of his own, including one to start the third quarter onslaught just seven seconds into the half.

“We were prepared very well by our coaches,” Molloy said. “We knew coming off a loss that we just needed to come out firing. We were really excited to be in the tournament, and we were all just pumped up.”

Head Coach Lars Tiffany ’90 urged the team to stick to the system after the Harvard loss, a system he said works well against the style employed by Johns Hopkins. He also preached a serious approach to playing in the NCAA tournament after falling in the first round last year to eventual-champion Denver.

“It was the first time we had made the NCAA tournament in six years,” he said. “This year is business. Last year was fun. And then we lost, and it wasn’t so much fun. We are here to win.”

The win is the first in the NCAA tournament for the program since 1995 and moves Bruno into the quarterfinals where it will face Navy Saturday. The Midshipmen pulled off one of the bigger surprises of the first round, as they upset fourth-seeded Yale in the first round 13-10 Sunday. A win would punch the Bears’ ticket to the Final Four, a feat accomplished only once in program history.

Navy is “a team that we’re not familiar with, so we’ve got a lot of catching up to do,” Tiffany said. “The advantage — having played Yale — is that we would have known them better.”

Bruno will continue to enjoy home-field advantage in the quarterfinals, as Brown was chosen as one of the “neutral sites” for the tournament before the season. A sell-out crowd of 3,200 filled the stands at Stevenson-Pincince field for the first round game, and while most students will have left campus, the team still believes that having a home-field advantage during the quarterfinal matchup will work in its favor.

“It’s such a boost for us to be able to play right here in Providence, to play in front of our fans,” Tiffany said. “The student body has been phenomenal. We’ll probably lose a few students (this weekend), but I don’t want to underestimate what our students can do.”

The team has also enjoyed national attention as the tournament progresses. In addition to the games being televised on ESPNU, Blynn was featured on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays after the first-round game. The senior found the net with a shot over his back shoulder as he was knocked to the ground, earning him the fourth spot on the daily countdown.

“It’s pretty new for us. We never really get that spotlight,” Molloy said. “We don’t focus on it too much. We just focus on each play and preparing the right way.”

Much of the national attention the team has received has been focused on Molloy. The junior is one of five finalists for the Tewaaraton Award, college lacrosse’s equivalent to football’s Heisman Trophy. Molloy is Brown’s first-ever finalist for the award, the winner of which will be announced at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. June 2.

“It’s a huge honor,” Molloy said. “On top of that to be the first finalist from Brown — it’s pretty cool.”

“We firmly believe we have the best lacrosse player in the college game right now,” Tiffany said of Molloy.

With 60 goals and 52 assists this season, Molloy is just seven points shy of the NCAA single season points record of 121, set last year by Albany’s Lyle Thompson.

Despite inching towards the record, Molloy said that with the team’s sights set on the next round, he hasn’t given it much thought at all. “I’m more focused on winning the next game and moving on,” he said.

With the unfamiliar Midshipmen coming into town, a big performance from Molloy and the rest of Bruno would go a long way toward helping the Bears in the next round. Despite the high stakes of this weekend’s contest, the coaches’ overall message to the team will not be any different than it has been throughout this record-setting season.

“Keep loving playing with each other, keep loving each other and loving playing this game,” Tiffany said. “I try to keep it as simple as that.”