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Strong Second Half Lifts Yale Past Penn State in NCAA Men's Lacrosse Opening Round

Photo Courtesy of Yale Sports Publicity

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Trailing 5-1 at the half, Yale scored nine of the next 10 goals to earn a 10-7 win over eighth-seeded Penn State on Saturday afternoon in the opening round of the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship.

The win was Yale's first in the NCAA tourney since 1992. The Bulldogs (12-4) will face either Syracuse or Bryant in the second round on Saturday, May 18 in College Park, Md. Those two teams play Sunday night at the Carrier Dome. The second round game time will be set for either 12:30 pm or 3 pm. 

Yale, making its second straight NCAA appearance and fifth all-time, became the first team in the history of the NCAA Men's Lacrosee Championship to win a game after scoring just one goal in the first half. Since the tournament began in 1971, teams scoring one goal or fewer in the opening half had a record of 0-52.

Ironically, later in the day Saturday, Notre Dame rallied to win after scoring just once in the first 30 minutes. 

The Bulldogs scored the first goal of the day, but the Nittany Lions (12-5) scored the next five goals to take a 5-1 lead into the intermission. However, Yale regrouped and, for the second straight game, put together a second-half run.

Yale's John-Will McGovern scored a man-up goal 1:55 into the second half to get things started. From there, Yale scored eight of the next nine tallies, including three by Colin Flaherty. Flaherty scored consecutive goals 59 seconds apart to make it a one-goal game, 6-5, with 3:40 left in the third.

Kirby Zdrill gave the Bulldogs the lead for good, 7-6 with 9:06 left in the fourth off a Michael McCormack helper. When Flaherty scored his third of the day with 1:46 to go, the Bulldogs had themselves a 10-6 lead.

In addition to Flaherty's three goals, Conrad Oberbeck added two goals and an assist for Yale. Goalie Eric Natale recorded 10 saves in the win. 

Penn State's Austin Kaut did his part to keep the Nittany Lions in the contest, recording 14 saves on the day. 

The win was Yale's sixth against a ranked team this year. The Bulldogs, who had the No. 7 RPI entering the tournament, are now 6-3 against ranked foes this season.

Yale is now 3-4 all-time in NCAA Championship play. The Bulldogs last advanced to the national semifinals in 1990. 

With Yale's win, the Ivy League has advanced at least one team in the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship in 12 of the last 14 years.