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Syracuse Lacrosse: Previewing the Yale Bulldogs

The Syracuse Orange will host the Yale Bulldogs in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at the Carrier Dome.

NCAA Lacrosse: Quarterfinals- Syracuse-Johns Hopkins Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports


School: Yale

Mascot: Bulldogs

Coach: Andy Shay

Location: New Haven, CT

Conference: IVY

Game Location: Carrier Dome

Game Time: 7:30 PM Sunday

Television/Radio: ESPNU/TK99/105


All-Time Syracuse Record Vs. Opponent:

Previous Matchup: 7-6 Syracuse Win in the 2013 NCAA Quarterfinals

Opponent Ranking: #14

Quick Facts

Record: 10-5

Conference Record: 5-1

Conference Postseason Results: 2017 Champions

2016 NCAA Tournament Postseason Results: 10-13 Loss to Navy in NCAA First Round

2017 Team Statistics

Total Goals– Shot Attempts: 197-618

Total Opponent Goals– Shot Attempts:

EMO Goals (Percentage): 6 (.188)

Team Shooting Percentage: .319

Shots on Goal Percentage: .615

Groundballs: 484

Turnovers: 186

Caused Turnovers: 85

Faceoffs: 244-411 (.594)

Clearing Percentage: 227-258 (.880)

Don’t sleep on this Yale Bulldogs team, this is a challenging draw for the two seed Syracuse Orange. The 2017 Ivy League Champions started off its year 1-3 with a win in the season opener against the Villanova Wildcats before losing a one-goal game to the Maryland Terrapins. The Bulldogs fell to Bryant next before a losing to a very mediocre UMass team, but that’s when things started to turn around. Yale played Fairfield to a double overtime win on its way to seven straight wins including victories over the Princeton Tigers and Brown Bears. The Elis finished up the regular season with one-goal losses to Albany and Harvard.

In the Ivy Tournament, Yale beat Penn for the second time this year in four overtime game. The Championship game featured a matchup against Brown in which Yale held off the Bears last minute rush including several opportunities from Dylan Molloy.

This is a high powered offense that poses a serious challenge for the Syracuse defense. The Orange will need to be at the top of its game in terms of slides. There are several areas in which SU could take advantage. The extra man game is a significant positive for the ‘Cuse, Yale has been nothing short of terrible in not only man-up opportunities but also man-down situations. Also keep an eye on the transition game. The Orange are the best clearing team in the nation while disrupting .112 of its opponents clears. Furthermore, Yale has been pretty weak defending opponents’ fast break opportunities and should face a tremendous challenge against a Syracuse team that can take advantage in fast paced transition opportunities.

According to @laxvegaslines, the Syracuse Orange are a two-goal favorite with the over/under set at 22.5. I can’t argue with the scoring margin, given that so many Syracuse games have ended in one-goal contests.


In terms of the man-up offense, you can’t really get much worse than Yale this year which is 68th in EMO goals per game in the nation. The Bulldogs have a .188 EMO percentage with just six man-up goals in 2017. Yet, Yale has the seventh best scoring offense in the nation with 13.13 goals per game

There are few better attackman in the nation than Ben Reeves. The junior is a finalist for the 2017 Tewaaraton Trophy this season. He is the quarterback of this offense with 2.50 assists per game and 2.71 goals per game this year. He’s had a lot of success dodging from X, so the slide has to be ready. One thing that the Yale attack has been very good at is drawing a double and dumping to an open attackman, which is partly responsible for Yale having the sixth most assists per game averaging 8.27. Watch this team try and test the defense all around the perimeter looking to draw an early slide. Scott Firman will be guarding Reeves on Sunday.

Jackson Morrill has 37 points on the season and has started 15 games as a freshman. He will be playing next to another freshman, Matt Gaudet who has the best shooting percentage in the college game right now sitting at a .517 percentage. He has the second most goals on the year for Yale with 30.


I’ve been very impressed by Eric Scott who has a heck of an outside shot. He can accurately shoot through traffic and if he sets up outside, watch out. Scott had five goals in an 12-11 loss to Maryland early in the season. Sophomore Jack Tigh is a natural attackman but is playing on the first midfield line this year. He’s got 17 goals this year and has only had one game this season without a point. Joseph Sessa had the game-winning goal in the fourth overtime against Penn in the Ivy League Tournament last weekend. Sessa has the second most assists on the Bulldogs with 23.

From what I’ve seen of Yale’s defensive midfield grouping, I’ve not been very impressed. These guys can be beat in a foot race off the dodge. I assume (and given what we’ve seen this year this may be a big assumption) that Yale will double pole the midfield, which would still leave Stephen Rehfuss with a shorty whom I believe will be Tyler Warner. In the few games I’ve seen of Yale, the defensive midfield, and in particular Warner, have had trouble keeping up on the dodges from the top, relying on help from the long poles to slide. I think there’s a big opportunity for Rehfuss in this game.


At the faceoff X, first-team All-Ivy League Conor Mackie is taking .591 percent of his duel which is good enough for 14th in the nation. Overall, Yale is 13th in the country in faceoff winning percentage with a .594 winning percentage. Ben Williams has a good opportunity here to be aggressive after the initial draw, something Mackie has not been.


In the man-down defense, Yale is near the bottom in the country, killing penalties at a .524 rate. Yale will be going against the second best man-up team in the country against Syracuse which has a .564 power play percentage. The big challenge for Yale will be the interior defense, an area this team has not been great at defending. The Syracuse offense has seen a lot of zone defense thrown at them this year, especially as of late. I don’t understand that at all, given how good this squad has been at breaking the zones. From what I’ve seen of Yale, I wouldn’t expect a lot of zone from the Bulldogs on Sunday.

Another area of weakness for the Yale defense is on the fast breaks. Syracuse is so good in transition while the Bulldogs have not been great at defending against fast break opportunities. I would like to see the Orange push the ball a little more during this game and during the Tournament.

Yale has been great at getting to the ball on the turf, snagging 32.27 groundballs per game. This could be trouble for the Orange who has been a little better than average in the ground ball battle.

Kind of out of nowhere Aidan Hynes has quickly developed into the top defensive player for Yale. He has 16 caused turnovers and 14 groundballs in his freshman season and was named to the second-team All-Ivy League.


In net, the Bulldogs have had two starters this season. Phil Huffard started the first four games in goal, getting pulled in two of those games, before being supplanted as the starter against Fairfield in favor of freshman Brody Wilson. Huffard was finally brought back to the crease as the starter against Penn after head coach Andy Shay believed he had turned it around.

Huffard has had two 15 save games this season, first against the Villanova Wildcats and then against the Brown Bears in the regular season. He has put up 12 saves in two of his last three games while only making six saves against Penn in a four overtime time Ivy League Semifinals. The junior has a mediocre save percentage and goals against average, .511 and 9.79 respectively.

They Syracuse Orange will play the Yale Bulldogs on Sunday at 7:30 PM in the Carrier Dome. The game can be seen on ESPNU and heard on TK99/105. Of course, you can also follow me for game updates @Orangelax.