The No. 3 men’s lacrosse team has done it again. After dismantling Cornell (6-6, 1-4 Ivy) Saturday, the Bears (12-1, 5-0) clinched a second straight Ivy League title and assured themselves another opportunity to win the conference tournament in front of their fans at home.
“It means a lot to win back-to-back Ivy League championships,” said Henry Blynn ’16. “But we also realize that we have never won the Ivy League playoffs in my four years here, and we want to lift that trophy.”
Saturday’s contest was a textbook display from the Bears, who dominated on both ends en route to a 22-5 win. The attack was spearheaded by Kylor Bellistri ’16 and Dylan Molloy ’17, each of whom tallied six points on the day. The pair are tied for third in the country in goals per game, and Molloy is first in the nation in points per game. Also adding to the offensive barrage were Blynn, who connected for three goals and contributed two assists, and Brendan Caputo ’16, who scored three times.
Such a well-rounded stat line has become commonplace for the Bears, who have been a beacon of offensive efficiency all year long. Bruno leads the nation with 17 goals per game, a full three goals ahead of second-place No. 16 Duke. Blynn explained that without the selfless attitude that the team embodies, the results wouldn’t be the same.
On defense, Bruno was carried by the always sensational play of Jack Kelly ’16, who stopped 12 of 17 shots that came his way. Kelly leads the nation in save percentage at 61.4 percent. Larken Kemp ’17 and Will Gural ’16 also played their parts, each collecting a team-high six ground balls.
Come Saturday afternoon in Ithaca, it was smooth sailing from the start for the Bears, as they raced out to a 3-0 lead in the opening minutes. Matt Graham ’16 kicked things off at the 46-second mark and Caputo followed up just a minute later. Then it was Molloy’s turn, who began his big day with a goal to put Bruno up by three. Cornell managed to cut the deficit to two several minutes later, but the Bears responded by scoring three times in less than 60 seconds. The 6-1 advantage would hold for the rest of the quarter, leaving Bruno in solid position to take control of the game in the following frame.
The second period got off to a similar start for the Bears when Blynn tallied his second goal of the day. Cornell once again showed that it wouldn’t go down without a fight, bringing the deficit back to five just two minutes later. But Bruno softened any hopes of a comeback by firing off three straight goals and taking a commanding 10-2 lead.
As the first half came to a close, the Big Red managed to grab another goal and gained a bit of momentum after also scoring first in the third quarter. But the Bears had no intentions of relinquishing the lead. After going scoreless for 15 minutes, Bruno tallied the last four goals of the third frame to build its largest lead of the game at 14-4.
Despite holding a 10-goal lead, the Bears kept looking better and better Saturday, as they outscored Cornell 8-1 in the final period. The final count of 22 goals was a season-high for the team, and its 17-goal win also marked its largest margin of victory on the season.
Bruno will look to keep the momentum going as it prepares to square off against a struggling Dartmouth team at home Wednesday. The Big Green (1-12, 0-5) have lost eight straight games and kicked off that streak by falling at home to NJIT, a program that gained varsity status last season and had not won a varsity game before winning in Hanover. A win against the Big Green would give the Bears an outright Ivy League title and an undefeated record in conference play. With a matchup against a historically strong Virginia program Saturday, Bruno must be cautious in overlooking a Dartmouth squad that will be eager to spoil the team’s bid for Ivy League perfection.
“We understand that we’re going to have a very busy couple weeks coming up,” Blynn said. “We’re going to focus on tightening everything up, whether it be offensive or defensive sets.”