May 5, 2013

Levings Powers Yale to Ivy Title; Princeton Sits on Bubble

By Will Cleveland | LaxMagazine.com | Live Blog Replay

Dylan Levings won all 11 first-half faceoffs and finished 19 of 23 to help Yale win its second straight Ivy League title and clinch and NCAA tournament berth.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

ITHACA, N.Y. — “Who Let The Dogs Out?” That was the choice song blaring over the speakers after the Ivy League men’s lacrosse tournament final. It was a fitting tune as second-seeded Yale secured a 12-8 win over fourth-seeded Princeton Sunday afternoon at Cornell’s Schoellkopf Field.

For the second straight year, the Bulldogs (11-4) earned the Ivy League Tournament title and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Last season, Yale won at Princeton.

“I am a little euphoric, a little dizzy right now,” Yale coach Andy Shay said. “I am not sure what to say, but I think we beat a tremendous opponent. Our guys were pretty determined to win another Ivy tournament championship. I am very proud.”

Yale junior faceoff specialist Dylan Levings powered the Bulldogs. Levings, who was named tournament MVP, won all 11 faceoffs in the first half and finished 19 of 23. He won 30 of 40 draws over the two games. His dominance allowed the Bulldogs to completely control possession and dictate tempo.

“He had a bad game against Princeton the first time around,” Shay said about Levings. “He’s a competitor, he’s tough, and he cares. He knew that if he could do what he can do, then we would have a good chance of winning and he did that.”

“It was really a team effort, I think,” Levings said. “We had great play on the wings. We were tenacious after ground balls, especially on the wings. I think that really did help a lot. I thought I struggled a little bit on the draws and I think that Mac [captain Michael McCormack] picked up a lot of great ground balls and kept the ball alive.”

Princeton coach Chris Bates said his team’s inability to win possession plagued it.

“We didn’t win one in the first half, I don’t think,” Bates said. “That put ourselves in a hole. I give the kid credit. It gives them possession. Yale knows who they are. They manufacture goals well, they possess the ball well, they shorten the game well. By the very nature of them having the ball as much they do, that puts us on our heels and we don’t get in a rhythm offensively. He’s the player of the tournament for a reason.”

Princeton jumped out to an early lead. Kip Orban, Friday night's overtime hero in the upset win over top-seeded Cornell, scored unassisted with 12:30 left in the first quarter to stake Princeton to a 1-0 lead.

Midfielder Tom Schreiber scored unassisted three minutes later on an under-handed wrist shot to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

Yale seized control for the remainder of the first half. The Bulldogs scored six straight goals, including the final three of the first quarter and the next three in the second quarter. Six different players scored during the first half.

Mike MacDonald, who scored seven goals Friday against Cornell, momentarily slowed Yale’s momentum with his goal with 27.1 seconds left in the first half.

Princeton was whistled for four penalties, giving the Bulldogs three extra-man opportunities.
Yale limited Princeton to 10 shots. The Bulldogs had 26 shots and held an 18-11 advantage in ground balls. Eric Sanschagrin recorded six saves in the first half for the Tigers.

“We put in our game plan yesterday,” said McCormack, a senior. “It was a big mental day, not so much on the legs, we were trying to save our energy a little bit. We were just able to execute with what we put in yesterday. Guys were flying around. We were able to cause some turnovers on a very good offense.”

Princeton used that MacDonald goal in the final minute of the first half as a spark to open the second half. The Froccaro brothers combined for three goals to tie the game at 6-6. Freshman Jake scored once and senior Jeff added two more to bring the Tigers even.

But then the Bulldogs closed the quarter with five unanswered goals. Thanks to more faceoff domination from Levings, Yale was able to put the game out of reach. Princeton, especially Bates, looked extremely flustered during this rough stretch in the third quarter. Bates came out on the field at one point and was warned by the referees.

Nine different players scored for the Bulldogs. Conrad Oberbeck and Brandon Mangan led Yale with two goals and one assist each. Kirby Zdrill added two goals for the Bulldogs.

Tom Schreiber finished with two goals and two assists and MacDonald added one goal and two assists for Princeton.

"I am as proud as can be," Bates said. "We showed a lot of resilience, a lot of fight. Our troops were thin and we just kept punching and punching and punching. We expended a lot of energy Friday, so were slow today. Our tank wasn't completely full."

Now, Yale can relax on Sunday evening, knowing that its spot in the NCAA Tournament is secure.

“I am just thrilled that we are here for a second straight time,” Oberbeck said. “Finally, we are getting our reputation up in the league. We pride ourselves on our toughness, but finally, we are being able to prove what our method is about, what we believe in. I am just really, really proud of the whole team effort.”

Princeton, meanwhile, hopes that the strength of its résumé will lead to an at-large bid. Cornell is left in the same boat.

“If somebody can explain to me in common English how the RPI works and how strength of schedule works, you are a better man than I,” Bates said. “We can play with anybody in the country and we feel like that. Do we deserve to go? I don’t know, but we can play with anybody in the country, without a doubt.”


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