FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Big Ben tolled early and often for Yale, and might have gotten a ringing endorsement for the Tewaaraton Award in the process.
Ben Reeves, a powerful 6-2, 205-pound senior, had five goals and four assists as No. 3 Yale rolled to an impressive 20-11 victory over No. 2 Albany in the first game of the NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse semifinal doubleheader at Gillette Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
“He’s the total package,” Albany coach Scott Marr said. “He’s a big, athletic kid. He runs with his head up. It’s one thing to be a good finisher or a good feeder, but he’s got a combination of both. It’s tough to stop.”
Albany (16-3), making its first Final Four appearance, couldn’t do it. Nor could the Great Danes stop the rest of Yale’s efficient, effective offense. Matt Gaudet scored six goals, including five on his first five shots, and Jackson Morrill had three goals and five assists.
Gaudet delivered three goals and Reeves scored twice during a game-opening 7-0 burst from which Albany never recovered. The closest the Great Danes got was 9-5 with 8:41 left in the second quarter. But the Bulldogs (16-3), who will play in their first championship game on Monday at 1 p.m. against Duke, closed out the half on a 3-0 run.
Gaudet tallied twice and then, after an Albany timeout with five seconds left to reset its defense, Yale struck again. Morrill took a pass from Reeves, operated behind the cage and finished for a 12-5 halftime lead.
“That was incredible,” Yale coach Andy Shay said. “That was a little twist we put in this week and our guys executed and trusted the moment. It’s a big deal when you can do that going into the half.”
All season long, Reeves has trusted his teammates. “We have tons of talent on the offensive side of the ball,” said Reeves, who has 61 goals and 50 assists. “You’ve got to respect all of them. Those guys make an impact and it makes it really easy for me.”
His counterpart on Albany, Connor Fields (34 goals, 52 assists), might have been a Tewaaraton finalist if he hadn’t suffered a serious knee injury in March. He had three goals and two assists in his final game.
“For that kid to be out there at all is phenomenal,” Shay said. “To finish out his career and lead his team to the Final Four after that injury — I’ve never seen anything like it.”