As the field of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament takes shape, and eager teams celebrate upon learning their opponents, the Brown men’s lacrosse team will begin its offseason.
Just six days after closing out its regular season with a dominant 20-5 win over Dartmouth, Brown (10-6, 4-2 Ivy) was back in action this weekend in New Haven, Conn. for the Ivy League Tournament.
Bruno entered the tournament as a three seed. The Bears bested Princeton in the semifinal Friday before falling to Yale Sunday in a narrow contest. In the loss — which marked the end of a storied career for Dylan Molloy ’17 and the rest of the senior class — Molloy notched two goals to become Brown’s all-time points leader with 318.
Having won four straight to close out the season, the Bears were rolling when they entered Friday afternoon’s contest against second-seeded Princeton (9-6, 4-2).
“There was a real belief in the room that we could go down there regardless of who we play in the two games and that we could get it done,” said co-Captain midfielder Larken Kemp ’17.
“Over the second half of our season, we got a lot better. Our goal this entire year was to play our best lacrosse in May. So heading into that Princeton game we felt pretty good about the matchup and we felt like we could execute,” he added.
The first quarter of action saw Princeton go up 4-1, but goals from Michael Panepinto ’19 and Stephen Hudak ’18 cut the lead to one entering the second quarter.
The second stanza remained close, as three unassisted goals by the Tigers were answered by tallies from Hudak, Luke McCaleb ’20 and Molloy. Princeton held the 7-6 advantage going into halftime.
The Tigers looked to be pulling away as the third quarter began, netting three straight goals to take a 10-7 lead. But Bruno clawed back and evened the contest at 10-10 going into the final quarter.
Brown opened the floodgates in the fourth. The Bears poured in seven goals and took a 17-12 lead with just 2:03 to play.
The Tigers netted three goals in the final 1:31, but the lead proved insurmountable, as Bruno clinched the 17-15 win.
While Princeton was winning the possession battle and besting the Bears on ground balls and face offs, Brown was able to turn it around by digging in defensively, Kemp said.
“A lot of credit to our goalie (Phil Goss ’20) and the entire defense for digging deep,” he said. “If we could get our offense the ball, they would put it in the net, so the biggest thing was … we started to win some of those one-on-one battles and get Dylan the ball. And that’s what kind of catalyzed that 7-0 run in the middle of the fourth.”
Goss recorded a career-high 20 saves in the win.
Hudak led the way for the Bears, recording five goals and an assist. Molloy added four goals and two assists, McCaleb provided two goals and three assists and Panepinto netted three goals in the win.
Molloy also moved into third place all-time in NCAA career goals in the win, passing North Carolina State’s Stan Cockerton with his 194th goal.
A Saturday of rest split the weekend’s action, and Bruno hit the field again Sunday for the tournament final against top-seeded — and host — Yale.
Bruno carried a five-game win streak and confidence from Friday’s victory into Sunday against a Yale team fatigued from a 4 overtime game Friday night against Penn.
After McCaleb netted a goal just 22 seconds into the contest, Yale scored four straight, but Brown brought the game to 5-3 by the end of the first quarter.
“Lacrosse is a game of runs,” Kemp said. “And we knew playing at home — they’re a well-coached group — that they’d try and give us an early knockout punch. And we felt like if we could weather that energy … then we’d find a run, and we did.”
The Bears’ final goal of the stanza was tallied by Molloy, who, with the finish, became Bruno’s all-time points leader with 317, passing Darren Lowe ’92.
The second quarter was all Bruno. Five goals from five different scorers gave Brown an 8-5 lead and the momentum going into the half.
Yale mounted a run of their own in the third quarter, scoring three goals in the final 7:23 and holding Brown scoreless. Going into the fourth, the game was knotted at eight.
Jack Kniffin ’20 tallied a goal less than a minute into the stanza, but Yale answered with about 7:00 remaining and tied the game again at nine.
With 3:39 to play, Yale’s Matt Gaudet scored an unassisted goal, his second of the game, to give Yale the one-goal lead.
Brown threatened to score for the remainder of the game — Molloy sent two shots off the crossbar in the waning moments of the contest, including one in the final five seconds — but Brown was unable to find the tying goal.
“We were really happy with where we were heading into that second half based on our stops we were getting,” Kemp said. “It simply comes down to the fact that we had to try to find a way to protect our goalie (and) protect our face off unit with goals, and unfortunately we couldn’t string them together. (We) hit a few pipes. There’s no excuses, but I’m proud of the guys.”
With the Ivy League Championship, Yale earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
McCaleb, Molloy and Jackson Newsome ’19 paced the Bears’ offense with two goals apiece in the effort.
The loss ended the season for Brown, and the careers of the class of 2017, the second winningest class in the history of Brown men’s lacrosse.
“As a senior, as a captain, it’s obviously a privilege to play here and to wear the colors, and it’s meant the world to me,” Kemp said. “I’m incredibly proud of the group because I’m not sure I’ve ever been a part of the team that experienced some of the lows that we did, and (we) never gave up on each other. … I’m just really proud of the turnaround, … for us, we felt like we had it the whole time, we just weren’t finding a way to put it together on Saturdays,” he added.
“But from where we came to where we ended — a couple of plays away from having the chance to play next weekend — it’s just been a thrill.”