DI Championship; Yale Tops Duke to Claim First NCAA Era Title

Photo Credit: NCAA

In a crazy back and fourth game the Yale Bulldogs would hold their own and come out on top as national champions. Behind the leadership of Matt Gaudet and goalie Jack Starr the Eli's proved their worth and topped the high powered Duke Blue Devils offense.

Yale got out to a hot start as they would be able to run straight through that Duke defense. Jack Tigh got the scoring started as he had two goals in the first. Yale would then get another goal from Matt Gaudet. It would look pretty easy for Yale to get open and shoot in the first quarter as Duke's defense almost looked scared to slide from Reeves. Duke would finally be able to get it going as Kevin Quigley got the Blue Devils on the board. That would make it a 3-1 Yale lead heading into the second.

Yale would get the second quarter started with a man-up goal by Brendan Rooney to put the Bulldogs up 4-1. Duke would not be kept of the game, even though Yale seemed to be dominating. The Blue Devils would be able to answer and make it a 4-2 game and then a 4-3 game after a quick Brad Smith goal. This game would turn a little and Duke would be able to fight back when many teams have folded against Yale this year. Yale would be able to hold on to a two goal 6-4 lead at the half.

The energy coming from Yale in the third quarter was second to none. It's like someone lit a fire under them during the break. The Eli's would come out with a 3 goal run that put them up 9-4 early in the third. That run is where Ben Reeves came to life as he was feeding the rock all over the place, as well as getting on the board finally. Duke would get a quick fast break off the faceoff where Justin Guterding would finish with a goal. Yale wouldn't allow Duke to march back so easily as Matt Gaudet would get the hat trick and give Yale a 10-5 lead with 9:08 in the third.

The Blue Devils would get some momentum back after a few Man-Up opportunities and they would finally capitalize as Peter Conley would cut it to a 10-7 Yale lead. Duke would get another quick goal from Kevin Quigley as the Blue Devils pulled within two. Finally, we would see Yale take a timeout to try and settle down the troops as they still lead 10-8.

Duke would have the opportunity to pull within one goal, but stupid decisions would limit that. Yale goth the ball and their momentum back as Lucas Cotler stopped Duke's run. Guterding would get one for Duke, but Yale would win the next faceoff and Jason Alessi would stun the entire crowd with a momentum shifting goal. Alessi's goal would put Yale up 12-9 heading into the fourth quarter.

Matt Gaudet would get his fourth goal of the day to start Yale off with some big momentum in the fourth. Yale would be full of energy until Joe Robertson would give Duke their life back as the Yale lead was cut to three. The flag after the goal would give Duke the man-up and Peter Conley would score a huge goal to cut the Yale lead to 13-11. After Ben Reeves had a "mom goal" Duke would get possession back, but Yale's defense would hold their own. Duke had a perfect chance to score with a Man-Up possession, but Yale's defense did their thing and as the clock hit zero Yale would become the 2018 national champions.

Yale has finally reached the top of the sport, despite many doubters all season long. Yale stuck to it and played their style all year. That would all pay off as they can now claim the 2018 NCAA Title! That is their first title in the NCAA era as their last championship in lacrosse was way back in 1883. The Eli's have done it in 2018 and who would have thought that Matt Gaudet, not Ben Reeves, would be the leader of the pack as he had 10 goals in the tournament alone. What a great way to end the season for the Bulldogs.