On the college sports calendar in New England, spring feels like 3 o’clock in the morning, when all is quiet, when nothing much happens. Spring is the dead zone between March Madness and final exams.
Sure, there is college baseball. And softball, tennis, golf, lacrosse, rowing and outdoor track, all worthy endeavors cheered by hard-core fans. But not one can match college football in the fall or college basketball in the winter for crowd appeal.
Every so often, though, a spring game pops up on the schedule that catches our attention. We have one Saturday afternoon, when Yale and Brown play lacrosse at Brown’s Stevenson-Pincince Field. That’s top-ranked undefeated Yale versus fourth-ranked once-beaten Brown in a game that has Ivy League and NCAA Tournament implications. The winner will assume sole possession of first place in the Ivy League and enhance its chance for a bid to the NCAA Championship.
Yale (10-0, 4-0 Ivy League) is ranked No. 1 in the USILA/Nike Coaches Poll and No. 2 in the Cascade/Maverick Media Poll. Brown (9-1, 3-0) is No. 4 in the media poll and No. 5 in the coaches poll. Yale and Brown are tied for the top spot in the New England coaches poll. If the Bulldogs and Bears play up to those lofty rankings, this could be the best game of the season in this part of the lacrosse world. Brown is averaging 16.9 goals per game, best in the nation; Yale’s defense is allowing 6.6, second-best. With a promising weather forecast, college lax fans should pack the stands.
Yale is the only undefeated team in the nation. Among its victories is an 8-5 triumph over No. 4 Maryland, a traditional power. Yale also boasts victories over Ivy rivals Cornell, Dartmouth and Princeton. The Bulldogs edged the Tigers, 11-10, in overtime.
Brown’s only loss was to Bryant, 11-10, in overtime on April 5 – Yale beat Bryant 14-4. The Bears are coming off a 17-6 rout of Penn on April 9. All-America attack Dylan Molloy scored eight goals and assisted on three and is the Ivy League player of the week for the third time this season. His 11 points were seventh-best in Ivy lacrosse history. He set the record of 15 points in a game last year against Michigan. All-America goalie Jack Kelly made 17 saves.
Molloy, a junior from Setauket, N.Y., is one of the finest players in the college game and a candidate for the Tewaarten Award, the Heisman Trophy of lacrosse. The Ivy League and New England player of the year in 2015, he leads the nation in goals (3.4), assists (3.4) and points (6.8) per game this year. He has 125 goals and 74 assists for 199 points in his career, fifth on Brown’s all-time list. Darren Lowe, a 1992 graduate, holds the school record, 111-205-316.
Cliff Stevenson and Dom Starsia coached Brown to national prominence 1970s, ‘80s and early ‘90s. After a period of decline in the 2000s, Lars Tiffany returned to his alma mater and has burnished Brown’s lacrosse image. This is his 10th season, and he has won two Ivy League titles. His 2015 Bears lost to Yale in the Ivy semifinals.
Yale is ranked No. 1 for the first time in program history, and has been on top for three consecutive weeks. The Bulldogs have won seven consecutive games against Brown, but the Bears lead the series, 35-25-1. Brown’s last victory occurred in 2009.
Game time is 1 p.m.