No. 17 Yale Nips No. 19 Harvard in Regular-Season Finale

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Freshman defenseman Phil Gross scooped up the loose ball 25 feet from his own goal and flung it to the other end of the field as the final seconds ticked off the clock. The No. 17 Yale men's lacrosse team then celebrated a share of the Ivy League title, qualifying for the league's post-season tournament and a 9-8 victory over No. 19 Harvard before 1,113 at Reese Stadium.

Gross, who helped the Bulldog defense limit the visitors to one goal in the fourth quarter, was able to get the ground ball because classmate Michael McCormack (game-best six ground balls) whacked the ball out of a Crimson's possession with Yale protecting the one-goal lead.

That typified the effort the Eli defense put forth to allow the home team to erase a 6-3, third-quarter deficit and score four of the game's last five goals in a thrilling Ivy League rivalry contest in front of Reese's largest crowd in recent years.

Yale, which was part of the Ivy's first-ever four-way tie for first place, is the No. 3 seed in the league tournament and will face second-seeded Princeton at Ithaca on May 7. The other semifinal pits No. 1 Cornell against No. 4 Brown. The winners play on May 9 for the automatic NCAA Tournament berth.

Brian Douglass, who had the fourth-quarter equalizer and winner, finished with three goals and pushed his season total to a team-high 32. The junior attackman took over after Jeff Cohen (game-high four goals) hit the net at 10:01 of the fourth to give Harvard an 8-7 lead.

“We wanted this one very badly for our seniors. They have been through a lot and we wanted to give them a gift on senior day,” said Douglass. “We had a healthy amount of nervousness before the game, and it was enough to keep us fighting the entire game.”

But Douglass would not have tied the game at 8:35 if not for the defensive play of the game from sophomore midfielder Mark Dobrosky, whose dive and underhand check knocked the ball from a Harvard player to a Yale teammate. Before you could figure out what happened, Colin Still was running down the field and feeding Douglass for a relatively easy tally.

“To play that much defense in the first half and still get that effort in the second was amazing,” said Yale head coach Andy Shay. “We found energy in the second half. We grinded it out the entire game on defense.”

Matt Fuchs, one of six seniors playing their last game at Reese, finished his home career in fine fashion with two goals and four points. His final point was the biggest one. He saw Douglass crossing in front of the crease and put a perfect pass on his stick. Douglass turned, in motion, and flipped a 15-footer through Harry Krieger's (7 saves) legs with 5:48 left for the goal that turned into the winner.

Yale called a timeout with 3:26 left and then turned up the defense a notch more. Harvard proceeded to fire five of its game-high 37 shots over the last 100 seconds. Three were wide and two were blocked by Bulldogs. The last came from Kevin Vaughan (4 assists) with 18 ticks left and it bounced off a Yale stick.

Senior Max Rodman had another big day in the faceoff circle for the Bulldogs. He won 14 of 21 while helping the Blue to a 29-23 ground ball advantage.

The Elis (10-3, 4-2 Ivy) got the first two goals (Fuchs, Patrick Coleman) of the game, took a 2-1 lead into the first break and were feeling pretty good about their play despite being outshot and not having the ball nearly as much as the visitors.

They weren't feeling so well when Harvard (6-6, 2-4) tallied six of the next seven goals and seemingly took control of the contest. However, the Bulldogs did not get flustered.

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