Yale Dumps Penn, Ivy Title In Crosshairs
from press release
ITHACA, N.Y. - The no. 13 Yale Bulldogs beat Penn, 9-6, at Schoellkopf Field in the first Ivy League Tournament semifinal today at Cornell. Trailing 3-0 after the first quarter, the Elis battled back to advance to the tournament final for the second year in a row, which will air live on Sunday at 11 am on ESPNU.
Sophomore Conrad Oberbeck led the Bulldogs with three goals and one assist. The rest of the scoring was spread out between Brandon Mangan, Shane Thornton, Harry Kucharczyk, Michael Lipin, Kirby Zdrill, and Michael Quinn. Senior defenseman Peter Johnson had his first points of the season with two assists, as well as causing three turnovers and picking up five ground balls.
It was a defensive-minded game, and the goaltending by sophomore Eric Natale made the difference as he racked up 12 saves.
"Eric played great. It's tough because in the beginning, we gave Penn some difficult shots yet they were able to score on them. It shows how good of a goalie he is, when he can play resilient and not let those first few goals affect him and really come through the rest of the game and make huge saves when we needed them. I'm very happy he's in goal and expect that kind of play out of him every game," Johnson said.
Yale outshot the Quakers 37 to 27 and picked up more groundballs (32 to 23). Junior Dylan Levings came up huge at the X, winning 11 of 17 face-offs.
After coming off one of his worst days of the season at Harvard, Levings said he "wanted to focus more, especially on small details. In general, I tried to fix what I did wrong. A lot of it was poor preparation, so I really tried hard and focused on this game."
While the ending was in Yale's favor, the start of the game was not. Their first goal did not come until Oberbeck ran the ball out from behind the net and along the crease before shooting to score a minute into the second quarter, cutting the Quakers' lead to 3-1. The next goal came 11 minutes later when Johnson picked up a ground ball in the defensive zone, pushed the transition to attack, and passed to freshman Michael Quinn, who shot it right under the crossbar to score, making it a one-goal game at 3-2.
Johnson said he learned his lesson after an attempted shot last game that he should pass it off instead: "The sideline was yelling 'trailer,' which essentially means you have a four-on-three with another guy on the field so I passed the ball back to Quinn, who was acting as the trailer, and he took a great shot."
Oberbeck agreed: "We knew coming into the game that Penn hasn't given up many more than 10 goals a game. So we knew it would be a defensive battle. Last game, they stymied our offense pretty well, so today, we had to focus on our mental effort, despite what happens during the game. We didn't end up having a goal until the second quarter, but Coach Andy Shay kept harping on the next play, just focus on the next play. I got a dodge on that first goal, and then Quinn scored. Whenever a pole scores a goal, everyone lights up, and I think that changed the game right there."
Less than a minute later, Mangan, standing behind the right side of the net, crossed the ball to Lipin on the top left, and the senior scored to tie the game at 3-3 heading into halftime.
Thirty-three seconds into the second half, Thornton took advantage of Yale's extra-man opportunity when he scored to give the Bulldog's their first lead of the game at 4-3. Penn scored two unanswered goals to take the lead back, but Oberbeck found the net again to tie the game at 5-5 going into the last quarter.
With a little less than 13 minutes left, Penn scored what would be its last goal to take the lead back at 6-5. Minutes later, Johnson notched his second assist when he picked up a groundball off a saved shot by Penn, ran the ball downfield, and passed to Zdrill, who scored to tie the game at 6-6.
Less than a minute later, Oberbeck connected with Flaherty to retake the lead.
"Colin Flaherty dodged down the wing and drew a slide. He passed it off to me, and I don't want to say I closed my eyes but I knew I would get slashed, so I tucked it and threw it at the net and it went in. It was one of the greatest feelings," said Oberbeck.
Defenseman Jimmy Craft picked off a pass in the defensive zone and passed it downfield to Mangan, who sped towards the net before taking a bounce shot to score and increase Yale's lead to two at 8-6. Yale's last goal came at 3:54, when Kucharcyzk found himself with the ball near the midfield line and Penn's defense out of position, including their goalie. He ran towards the net and was able to shoot before the goalie could set up, giving Yale the three goal lead at 9-6.
Senior captain Michael McCormack was proud of his team's performance: "We have a tendency to come out and fall down a little bit. Once we have a chance to settle into things, it's reassuring to know we can play in the second, third, and fourth quarters to come back. We were able to slowly chip away at their momentum, which was nice, and going into the half tied was great. From there on out, it was a solid effort by everyone, so it was a great win."
Besides advancing to the tournament finale, which carries an automatic bid to the national tournament, this win might have given the Blue what it needs to advance to the NCAAs as an at-large squad. The NCAA Selection Show airs at 9 pm on Sunday on ESPNU.