Bryant vs. Yale
April 19, 2011
The Game Story:
SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bulldogs and the Elis combined for five goals in the final four minutes of action Tuesday night as Bryant University nearly bridged a late three-score gap, but No. 18 Yale stood up to the test, just barely squeaking out a 9-8 victory at the Bryant Turf Complex.

With only 3:55 to play in the contest, the Elis (9-2) added what appeared to be an insurance goal compliments of Gregory Mahony to pad their lead to 8-5 over the hosts, but Bryant (7-7) had other ideas as the seconds ticked off the clock, knowing this game was far from over if the Bulldogs had anything to say about it.

And as it turned out, senior Gary Crowley (Scituate, Mass.) had a lot to say, as the middie showed the home side hope off a feed from Peter McMahon (Wilton, Conn.) at the 2:02 mark, cutting Yale's lead to 8-6.

Less than 30 seconds later, junior Travis Harrington (Vestal, N.Y.) got his own word in, hustling the defense behind the cage before curling around for an unassisted score with 93 seconds left in regulation to put the pressure on the nationally ranked visitors, who gave up back-to-back Bulldog tallies for the first time since the game's opening minutes.

With just a one-goal margin between the two sides, Cole Yeager and Evan Roberts met at the X for arguably the most crucial faceoff of the contest, one the former would win, forcing junior goalie Jameson Love (Darien, Conn.) out of the cage to try to force an Eli turnover in the waning seconds of the game.

But a score into an unprotected net by Mahony gave Yale back a two-goal cushion with 1:09 to play. And while Mason Poli (Downingtown, Pa.) would cause a huge turnover directly off another Yale faceoff win – allowing McMahon and Max Weisenberg (Long Beach, N.Y.) to hook up to make it a one-goal game once more, 9-8, with 37 seconds left – the Bulldogs wouldn't get another chance to net the equalizer, as the visitors won the final faceoff to run the clock down to zero and leave Smithfield with the victory.

Love was stellar in net for the Black and Gold, making 15 saves to keep Yale's potent attack in check, while Poli was again terrific at both ends of the field, picking up a career-best and game-high six ground balls while matching his career mark with six caused turnovers to lead all players. The sophomore defenseman also netted his fifth goal of the season to open the night's scoring.

On offense, the Bulldogs struggled to get their shots on target, firing 39 toward the cage but putting just 16 on goal in the game. Bryant outshot Yale, 39-32, on the evening and edged the visitors in ground balls, 35-27. The home side caused 14 of the Elis' 22 turnovers, but couldn't get the read on Yeager at the faceoff, as he won 11 of 18 at the X to pace Yale's 12 of 21 mark on the night.

Bryant's riding game cruised in the contest, causing Yale to go just 17 of 23 on the clear, while Bryant missed completing just a single clearing attempt (21 of 22). Both teams were strong on man-down defense as the sides went a combined 0 for 8 in extra-man opportunities.

The game started out on a high note for Bryant, as the hosts jumped out to a 2-0 advantage in the first five minutes of play courtesy of Poli and rookie Alex Zomerfeld (Port Jefferson, N.Y.). But Yale would neutralize the advantage with goals spanning the first and second frames, and took a 3-2 edge with 9:49 to play in the half.

Crowley would get the last word in before halftime off an assist from McMahon, sending the teams to the locker room in a 3-3 deadlock. But two Yale scores after the break would give the visitors a lead they wouldn't relinquish despite Bryant's late push for the eventual 9-8 final.