Yale's Window Wide Open for Reeves' Senior Season


Yale's Ben Reeves, a two-time Tewaaraton finalist, had 42 goals and 27 assists last year, but the Bulldogs again came up short in the NCAA tournament, losing 11-10 at Syracuse.

US Lacrosse Magazine released the Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Men’s Preseason Top 20 on Jan. 8. Team-by-team previews will be unveiled on uslaxmagazine.com throughout January and will also appear as part of the magazine’s NCAA preview edition that mails to US Lacrosse members Feb. 1 — opening day of the 2018 college lacrosse season.

No. 5 Yale

2017 Record: 10-6 (5-1 Ivy League)
Coach: Andy Shay (15th year)
All-Time Record: 618-523-6
NCAA Appearances: 8
Final Fours: 1
Championships: 0

Yale has won the Ivy League tournament and made the NCAA tournament for three consecutive seasons, an unprecedented string of success that has Bulldogs’ fans hoping for the school’s first national championship since 1883 (pre-NCAA era).

Much of that success is due in part by one of the greatest players in the history of the program — a player that balances being a molecular, cellular and developmental biology major with his lacrosse career. Yes, Ben Reeves is back.

Reeves, a two-time Tewaaraton finalist, enters this season on the short list for the 2018 award. With 42 goals and 37 assists last season, he passed Jon Reese to become Yale’s all-time leading scorer with 201 points.

“His focus now is leadership and making sure he helps leave Yale lacrosse a little better than when he showed up,” Shay said. “If he can just add another layer to his game, supporting his teammates and challenging his teammates, then that would really cement his legacy as a really positive force in Yale lacrosse history.”

The Bulldogs have been bounced from the first round of the NCAA tournament in each of the last three seasons. The burden of advancing beyond that does not rest solely on Reeves. Shay expects four sophomores to benefit from a second-year bump. Attackmen Jackson Morrill and Matt Gaudet will share the load on offense, Aidan Hynes could assume a larger role on defense, and Brody Wilson should emerge between the pipes. Phil Huffard, Yale’s starting goalie the last two seasons, is no longer on the team. The Bulldogs should benefit from a considerable possession advantage thanks to senior faceoff specialist Conor Mackie.

“Our aggregate level of talent is a slight uptick,” Shay said. 

The Case For Yale

Yale returns most of a core that helped win the Ivy League title last season. With Tewaaraton candidate Ben Reeves back and healthy, the sky is the limit for the offense. Sophomores Matt Gaudet and Jackson Morrill will also help ease the load that Reeves has to carry this season. Yale also returns two starting defensemen. There’s plenty of talent to go around. The Bulldogs also return starting faceoff man Conor Mackie, who fueled the team’s sixth-ranked faceoff unit.

The Case Against Yale

For three straight seasons, Yale has been ousted in the first round of the NCAA tournament. It will be a major hurdle jumped if the Bulldogs can get the second round this year, but it’s a long season and it’s not guaranteed Yale takes the Ivy League. In terms of the roster, the Bulldog defense allowed 10.31 goals per game last season. Aidan Hynes and Jerry O’Connor will return to try to improve upon those numbers.

Path to the Playoffs

Yale enters he season as the favorite in the Ivy League, a conference that carries an automatic bid. But there will be a few key games on the schedule before the Bulldogs can think about the postseason. The season opens Feb. 17 at Villanova. A home matchup with Michigan (Feb. 24) could also pose a threat. In Ivy League play, games at Cornell (March 17), at home against Princeton (March 24) and at Brown (April 14) will be fun to watch. Sandwiched in between Ivy League opponents is a big game against Albany on April 22, which could decide an at-large bid or seeding.

Players To Watch

Ben Reeves, A, Sr.
42 G, 37 A

Reeves is a Tewaaraton candidate for another year, and rightfully so. He should lead the Yale offense and best his totals from last season, during which he missed a few games due to injury.

Jackson Morrill, A, So.
20 G, 19 A

Morrill returns after a strong freshman year, looking to continue his development alongside Reeves on the offense. If he can make strides in 2018, Morrill could become an Ivy League standout this season.

Conor Mackie, Sr., FO

60.3 FO%, 142 GB

Another boost for the Yale offense has been Mackie, whose faceoff wins have provided more opportunities to Reeves and company. If he can improve on last year’s stats, which put him 10th in Division I, this offense could be even stronger.

National Rankings




Offense 6th 12.94 GPG
Defense 31st 10.31 GAA
Faceoffs 6th 60.5%
Ground Balls 8th 32.31/game
Caused TO 60th 5.56/game
Shooting 19th 31.4%
Man-Up 69th 17.1%
Man-Down 62nd 53.3%
Assists 7th 8.00/game
Turnovers 17th 12.06/game
Clearing 29th 87.7%

Power Ratings (Scale of 1-5)






The goal differential in Yale’s six losses combined in 2017. The Bulldogs lost four one-goal games, including against eventual NCAA champion Maryland in a game the Bulldogs played without Ben Reeves. Yale was knocking on the door last season, and it will not take much to make the leap from competitor to contender.

5-Year Trend
Scoring Offense




2013 30th 10.18
2014 26th 10.50
2015 18th 11.38
2016 10th 12.38
2017 9th 12.94

Coach Confidential
Andy Shay

“Everyone kinds of looks at us like, ‘When is Yale going to take the next step?’ And that’s our expectation every year. We have to try to improve in every position and facet of the game to live up those expectations.”

Enemy Lines
Rival Coaches

“They can win the ball with Conor Mackie back at the FO X. Their attack is deadly, with the best returning attackman in the nation in Ben Reeves and two standout sophomore role players next to him in feed-first Jackson Morrill and jam-it-home crease finisher Matt Gaudet. They have athleticism and tenacity in Tyler Warner and Jason Alessi, who returns to the lacrosse field after winning an Ivy football title this fall. Chris Keating returns for a fifth year to the always stalwart Yale defense, bringing a wealth of experience and an uncanny knack for intercepting passes. Throw in the elusive Joey Sessa and this Yale team is the class of the Ivy League in 2018. The annual question remains though: Can they experience steady goalie play?”

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