Foxborough, Massachusetts – Second time was not the charm for Albany against Yale.
Yale jumped out 7-0 and never looked back as the Bulldogs defeated Albany in the NCAA semifinals at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, 20-11 in a rematch from a previous stunner earlier in the year.
Matt Gaudet got going early with five goals on five shots, and by the time the Great Danes’ defense had any answers, it was too late. Ben Reeves went off for 11 points while Jackson Morrill notched five assists as the Bulldogs led from start to finish to advance to Monday’s championship contest.
In a rematch from their April 22 matchup, the Bulldogs were more dominant the second time around. While the consensus was it would be a different game as Scott Marr’s crew adjusted to the Bulldogs, Yale was prepared to beat the Great Danes with their speed and mismatches on offense.
“The main key is like we make practice so hard that a game like this can’t ever get too big,” said Morrill. “The pressure we get, especially as offensive guys from our defensemen in practice is incredible, so you’re always going to be prepared for a big game like this.”
After Gaudet went off, Tewaaraton candidate Ben Reeves followed with a five-goal, four-assist performance to go along with three tallies and five helpers from Jackson Morrill.
“We have tons of talent on the offensive side of the ball,” said Reeves. “I think Jackson went three goals, five assists today, Gaudy had six goals. You’ve got to respect everybody on that side of the ball, and Joey Sessa, Jack Tigh,Lucas Cotler, John Daniggelis, the list goes on and on, Teddy Forst, all those guys make an impact and it makes it really easy for me.”
Once the Bulldogs had momentum, it seemed like they weren’t slowing down.
“I think the key was our coaches obviously put us in much tougher situations in practice, and I think it was just about not letting, I guess, the thrill of it all get to you,” said Gaudet. “Obviously Gillette Stadium is an incredible facility, and it’s just about using your reset, which is one thing our coaches have really taught us, no matter how bad or how good the play is, starting from square one and starting from scratch.”
The Bulldogs drove Albany goalie JD Colarusso out of the cage early in the first half and he didn’t make a save upon returning until 26 minutes into the contest. The Great Danes offense wasn’t much help in the opening half, struggling to gain possession.
But when they did, Yale’s defense was just as tough as it was first time around in the same matchup.
“I think it ended up being a bit of a war of attrition that worked out in our favor,” said Yale coahc Andy Shay. “He wasn’t matched on Chris the entire time, and that wasn’t — it’s not like we switched the match-up, it was kind of by happenstance. But we were prepared to look at Chris on one, Jerry on five, Keating on either of them, Aidan Hynes, Will Weitzel, Robert Mooney. I think that anyway we stacked it, we were okay because we were going to kind of play a little bit of pressure and get on their hands, and the times we weren’t on their hands, they got goals.”
It’s the first ever title appearance for the Bulldogs since the last time they won in 1893.
On Monday, the focus will turn towards either Maryland or Duke. But on Saturday, playing for the chance to get to a national championship game had a bit more meaning against a rival in Albany.
As it turned out, that first time wasn’t a fluke, either.
“They’ve gotten the better of us a few times, and it looks like we’ve got a two-game streak, and I’m sure we’re going to — it’s going to be a knock-down drag-out again next year,” said Shay. “Like I said, they’re a team that we respect immensely, and we feel like they play the game open, and they play it the right way, and we try and do it, as well, and I think that’s kind of the right thing to do.”