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Albany vs Yale 2018 NCAA Semifinals Ryan Conwell (8 of 28)
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Yale Stops Dane Train in their Tracks for National Title Shot

Whether you were thinking the Elis of Yale would take the victory in the opening NCAA Semi-final, or that the Dane Train would keep on rolling all the way to Memorial Day – I don’t think anybody foresaw this game going quite the way it did. 20 to 11, in the Final Four! It’s not a stretch to expect a little parity when it comes to the teams that make it to Memorial Day Weekend.

The Bulldogs opened up with seven straight goals in the first quarter, all without an answer from the Danes. Seven. Straight. Goals. One after the next, the Bulldogs simply could do no wrong and the Danes couldn’t catch a break.

So…. what happened?

Or… What Didn’t Happen

Albany’s free-flowing offense has been the talk of the town for years, and many thought this was the year Coach Marr had all the pieces needed to complete the run to an NCAA Championship. Fields. Rhe. Nanticoke. All-American goaltender J.D. Colarusso and a faceoff genius in TD Ierlan.

All the pieces were there, so how was it that these Bulldogs were able to bully the Danes in almost every aspect of the game?

Albany vs Yale 2018 NCAA Semifinals Ryan Conwell (8 of 28)
Photo: Ryan Conwell /

It is my opinion that the Yale Bulldogs put on an extremely efficient display of fundamentally sound lacrosse, and creativity and innovation was unable to beat the tried and true fundamentals.

There were no low to high rips from 12 yards out coming in at 100+. There really were no highlight reel goals with unconventional trickery or bizarre stick work.

The victory of Yale’s bulldogs and the halting of the Dane Train in Foxboro was simple, disciplined, and efficient lacrosse all over the field.

Starting with the defense, Chris Fake was the one garnering all the attention for his commanding presence covering Connor Fields, but Fields still managed to scrape together 5 points on Albany’s 11 goals. While we were all impressed with Fake’s no-nonsense defending, the names we weren’t hearing were Chris Keating and Jerry O’Connor for keeping Tehoka Nanticoke to one goal and Justin Rhe to one assist.

Possession, Possession, Possession

While it’s important to give this credit to the defense that stifled the Danes, it’s important to note… they didn’t have to play as much defense as they might’ve had to without Conor Mackie’s dominant performance.

The Danes have propped up massive leads on opponents all year based on their first-strike abilities garnered by Ierlan’s record-breaking season. However, Ierlan’s Kryptonite seems to be Conor Mackie. Mackie overwhelmed Ierlan in the regular season, and Championship Weekend’s performance was no different. Yale wasn’t far off from 50%, 15 of 33, and seemed to have an answer to the the threat of Ierlan.

Albany vs Yale 2018 NCAA Semifinals Ryan Conwell (8 of 28)
Photo: Ryan Conwell /

Credit is due to defenders, as credit is due to Mackie dominating in the midfield at the X. The Bulldogs couldn’t have won without these efforts, but the real story is the powerhouse offense of Reeves, Gaudet, and Morrill.

Ben Reeves tallied 5 goals and 4 assists, Jackson Morrill tallied 3 and 5, and Matt Gaudet was nearly perfect scoring 6 goals on 8 shots. These three attackmen tallied 14 goals and 9 assists, and they made it look easy.

The Best is Yet to Come

Watching both games yesterday, I think we’re in for a treat come Monday. Two offenses with zero frills are set to test each other. Prolific scorers fill the rosters of both Yale as well as Duke, and the burden will be on the defenders as well as the goaltenders to help one team to lift up over the hump this one last time for the hardware.

Albany vs Yale 2018 NCAA Semifinals Ryan Conwell (8 of 28)
Photo: Ryan Conwell /

Shoot overhand, pass perimeter, and place your shots. Make the defense stop your offense, don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t need to.

The Yale Bulldogs aren’t flashy. Ben Reeves does the same things your middle school coach preached… he just does them really well. Gaudet catches the ball and throws it in the net. Morrill throws him the ball. It’s almost comical how simple and yet lethal this Yale offense is.

The Devil is in the details, and the Devils will have to contend with the textbook offense of Yale’s Bulldogs on Monday in the NCAA Championship.