Playing in front of a record crowd at Stevenson-Pincince Field, the No. 4 men’s lacrosse team did not disappoint Saturday. The Bears (10-1, 4-0 Ivy) inspired the crowd to rush the field when they rallied to take down No. 1 Yale in one of the year’s mostly highly anticipated contests in all of college lacrosse. Bruno now has sole possession of first place in the Ivy League and can clinch at least a share of the title with just one win in its final two games.
“All of us with Brown lacrosse are incredibly grateful for the enormous student support on Saturday,” said Head Coach Lars Tiffany ’90. “We are fortunate to have our passionate fans, squeezing into any space they could to yell and prod us to victory.”
While the crowd roared at the beginning of the game, it did not take long for Yale (10-1, 4-1) to bring the stadium to a silence. After a defensive breakdown from Bruno, the Elis managed to score within just 14 seconds of the game’s opening whistle. Four minutes later, they kept up the pressure, scoring again and taking a quick 2-0 lead. For a team that has rarely had to play catch-up this year, the Bears found themselves in an unfamiliar position.
But the deficit did not paralyze the Bears. Less than 50 seconds after Yale’s second goal, Brendan Caputo ’16 and Henry Blynn ’16 both found the back of the net in an 11-second window to tie the game. Yale quickly responded with two goals of its own, triggering a game-long trend of Bruno playing from behind.
The two teams would go on to trade scores until about midway though the second quarter, when the Elis poured in three straight goals to take their largest lead of the day at 9-5. With only seconds left in the first half, national points per game leader Dylan Molloy ’17 gave his team the jolt of momentum it needed by tallying as the buzzer expired.
At the start of the third frame, Yale tried to head off any comeback attempt by the Bears, scoring four minutes into the quarter and restoring its four-goal lead, but Bruno wasn’t ready to concede. The Bears proceeded to dominate the rest of the period, scoring four straight goals to knot the score at 10 by the end of the quarter. The rally was highlighted by Will Gural ’16, who won a face-off at the eight-minute mark. The junior took just three seconds to run down the field and beat the keeper for his second goal of the day. After a fairly even first half at the face-off X, Gural was lights out in act two, taking away 11 of 13 opportunities.
Two minutes into the fourth quarter, the Bears saw their first lead of the day after Molloy converted on a slick pass from Bailey Tills ’16. Less than two minutes later, Molloy was back at it again, this time doing it on his own and scoring an unassisted goal to extend the lead to two. It didn’t take long for the Elis to respond, as they scored within a minute to cut the deficit in half and make the score 12-11. Bruno would manage to hold on to the one-goal lead until about three minutes left in the contest, when Kylor Bellistri ’16 added some insurance. Yale tried to make things interesting by scoring with just over a minute left on the man-up, but the Bears successfully wasted away the rest of the time and punctuated the win with an empty netter from Molloy with 15 seconds left.
When the final whistle blew, fans stormed the field, and Bruno claimed its first victory over Yale since 2009. After giving the Elis their first loss of the season, the Bears now stand a strong chance of hosting the Ivy League tournament, which they would clinch with an outright Ivy title or a tie with Yale thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker. But before the team gets carried away with postseason aspirations, it will have to focus on Tuesday’s game against in-city rival Providence. Bruno will look to avenge its Tuesday blues from last week, when the team lost to unranked Bryant.
“Now we have a quick turnaround with Providence College Tuesday night here,” Tiffany said. “We cannot assume anything, and as the men have heard us say — the only thing that matters now is what we do next.”