Saturday's game between the Bears — the No. 19 men's lacrosse team — and No. 16 Yale figured to pit two of the top teams in the country, but for much of the game only one team showed up.
The Bulldogs (9-2, 3-2 Ivy) invaded Stevenson Field and smothered the Bears (5-5, 2-2) for three quarters, opening up a 13-5 lead, en route to a 14-11 victory.
Head Coach Lars Tiffany '90 said Yale was more prepared in all aspects of the game.
"I take responsibility for this loss," he said. "I thought their coaches did a better job coaching their team, and I thought their players did a better job being ready to make plays."
"Yale made plays throughout," Tiffany continued. "Granted, the last six or seven minutes there we stepped up, but that's too little, too late. I'm proud of the fact that we made an effort at the end, don't get me wrong, but we have to do a better job, as coaches and as players, for 60 minutes."
The Bulldogs gashed the Bears for five goals in the first quarter, which Tiffany said left him second-guessing his decision not to play more zone defense early. Brown could not answer and went into the second quarter down, 5-0.
"Yale is a very good team with some amazing shooters," said quad-captain Thomas Muldoon '10. "They came out firing and we came out kind of slow. After their first couple goals, we had the opportunity to answer and get our goals, (but) we had trouble finding the back of the net today until the fourth quarter, when we started to look like ourselves again."
The Bears showed signs of life in the second quarter. Rob Schlesinger '12 finally put Brown on the scoreboard 1:49 into the second, but Yale answered just 29 seconds later and quickly added another goal to take a 7-1 lead.
Midway through the quarter, the Bears scored a pair of goals in quick succession after a Yale penalty. Following a goal by Andrew Feinberg '11, Roger Ferguson '13 quickly brought the ball up and fed Parker Brown '12, who scored his first of three goals just 15 seconds after Feinberg's.
Yale's Max Rodman then scored 11 seconds later when the Brown defender marking him lost his stick, but Feinberg followed with his second goal to cut the halftime deficit to 8-4.
"We finally awoke," Tiffany said. "We played some zone defense, which was what I should have called right from the get-go. The men finally stepped up and made some plays."
The Bulldogs reasserted their dominance in the third quarter, outscoring the Bears, 5-1, behind a suffocating defense that allowed Brown to put only 25 of its 44 shots on the cage — 23 of Yale's 33 shots were on goal — and strong play in goal from Johnathan Falcone, who finished with 14 saves.
"Their goalie played really well," Tiffany said. "He stymied some earlier runs."
Brown's only goal of the third came on a slick man-up play, as Muldoon charged the cage and received a pass from below from Collins Carey '10 for the first of his three assists.
The Bears went into the fourth quarter down, 13-5, before the light finally went on. Tiffany said the team started to play with aggressive abandon, not worrying about giving Yale breakaways. David Hawley '11 scored twice in the opening seven minutes, before the goals started coming quickly in the final four minutes.
Parker Brown scored the second of his three goals with 3:20 left, but Yale answered 31 seconds later when Matt Miller split the defense for his third goal. Muldoon scored an extra-man goal with 2:25 left, just nine seconds after Yale was flagged for the penalty. Nicholas Laster '12 scored 40 seconds later, and Parker Brown completed the scoring with one minute left.
"We've got some amazing talent on our offense," Muldoon said. "Once we start getting excited and playing together, there aren't many teams that can stop us. We've been scoring a lot of goals all season, and it's because we have the ability to dodge, pass it and find the man who's open, and then we've got some really good shooters, too."
Now the Bears will have to figure out how to bounce back from a debacle. Before Ivy League play resumes Saturday at Cornell (8-3, 3-1 Ivy), Brown will host crosstown rival Providence College (0-10) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Tiffany said he isn't taking the Friars lightly.
"This is going to be a challenge because we just got beat up on our own field," he said. "We have two days to get ready for a dangerous Providence College team. I know people are going to say, ‘Well, Coach, they're win-less,' but they lost to Yale, 7-5. That was a close game throughout. We just got beat up by Yale. You look at those two scores, and PC's right there with us."
Muldoon said the Bears just need to "have a good couple practices and get refocused. We lost this game today, but sometimes you just gotta put the past behind you and look forward to the next game."