The No. 5 men’s lacrosse team was back at it Tuesday against Holy Cross, breezing to another victory and extending its season-opening win streak to four games. Following a tight first quarter, the Bears (4-0) sent it into high gear and never looked back as they cruised to a 20-7 finish.
Though a victory over the winless Crusaders (0-6) may not catch the eyes of many, their opponents are a better team than their record indicates. In the last two weeks, Holy Cross has fallen to both No. 7 Harvard and No. 8 Loyola by a single goal. The Bears knew that Tuesday’s contest had the makings of a trap game, but they had erased any possibility of an upset by the halftime whistle.
“I give a lot of credit to our leadership,” said Head Coach Lars Tiffany ’90. “Our style of lacrosse is so dependent on being high energy, and our seniors and captains ensure that we come up for every game excited and eager.”
Bruno’s offense once again proved to be a dazzling display of efficiency. At Tuesday’s game, the team found yet another player to lead the high-flying scoring attack: Kylor Bellistri ’16, who tallied an impressive seven goals and three assists. The 10-point game makes up half of the captain’s point total for the entire season, and Bellistri is now tied for fifth nationally in goals scored per game.
“Kylor was outstanding,” Tiffany said. “He’s balancing so many things — he’s a captain, he’s our quarterback on offense and obviously he has the ability to score goals himself.”
Also playing a big role was the ever-reliable Dylan Molloy ’17, who dished out eight assists and tagged on a goal. Molloy now leads the nation at four assists per game, which is encouraging for a player who has seen his fair share of double, and even triple, teams this season after ending last year as the nation’s leading scorer.
Teams have been aggressively sliding to cover Molloy, leaving scoring opportunities to other players on the team, Tiffany said. As a result, Molloy has blossomed into an even more dynamic threat as a player who “can feed and score,” Tiffany added.
Though the offensive numbers are impressive, arguably the most eye-popping stat line of the day came at the face-off X, where Bruno grabbed 26 of 30 opportunities. But this number should be taken with a grain of salt — much of this success had to do with Holy Cross’ somewhat unusual strategy of essentially conceding the face-off to keep the Bears out of transition.
While this tactic may sound strange, it was not entirely ineffective in the first quarter. By the end of the period, Bruno led the game by a score of 3-1, despite dominating time of possession.
But the second quarter was a different story, with the Bears scoring four goals in the first five minutes and dictating the pace en route to a 10-1 halftime lead.
The second half was more of the same, as Bruno extended its lead to 11 by the end of the third. With just under four minutes remaining in the last frame, the Bears broke the 20-goal barrier for the second time this season. They now rank as the highest scoring offense in the nation at 17.75 goals per game.
The next test for the Bears will come this Saturday at home against Michigan (3-2). Bruno traveled to Ann Arbor last year and came away with a convincing 22-12 win, but Tiffany acknowledged that they will likely face stiffer competition this time around.
Michigan “is a very athletic team,” he said. “We see them as improved from the 2015 team, so it’s a great opportunity to prove ourselves and continue to work on our system against a really good program.”
If Bruno walks away with a win on Saturday, it will enter Ivy League play without a blemish on its record and start with an exciting opportunity to take on No. 7 Harvard in Cambridge. Last year, it was a win over the Crimson that sparked the Bears’ surprise run to the NCAA tournament. This year, the team hopes to cut surprise out of the equation.