Ex-Virginia assistant Kirwan latest to step into the Big Green breach

Yale University's Peter Moynihan, left, is pursued by Dartmouth's Eli Goldstein during the Ivy League teams' April 13, 2024, meeting on Scully-Fahey Field in Hanover, N.H. Yale won, 20-13. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission.

Yale University's Peter Moynihan, left, is pursued by Dartmouth's Eli Goldstein during the Ivy League teams' April 13, 2024, meeting on Scully-Fahey Field in Hanover, N.H. Yale won, 20-13. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. valley news photographs — Tris Wykes

Dartmouth College's Colin McGill, left, congratulates Emmett Paradine after the latter's first-quarter goal against Yale on April 13, 2024, at Scully-Fahey Field in Hanover, N.H. Yale won the Ivy League game, 20-13. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission.

Dartmouth College's Colin McGill, left, congratulates Emmett Paradine after the latter's first-quarter goal against Yale on April 13, 2024, at Scully-Fahey Field in Hanover, N.H. Yale won the Ivy League game, 20-13. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. valley news — Tris Wykes

A trio of Yale University players loom over Dartmouth faceoff man Mitchell Myers (22) during the Ivy League teams' April 13, 2024, meeting on Scully-Fahey Field in Hanover, N.H. Joe Azelby is at left. Yale won, 20-13. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission.

A trio of Yale University players loom over Dartmouth faceoff man Mitchell Myers (22) during the Ivy League teams' April 13, 2024, meeting on Scully-Fahey Field in Hanover, N.H. Joe Azelby is at left. Yale won, 20-13. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. —Tris Wykes

Dartmouth College's Vincent Gandolfo works against Yale defenseman Jack Stuzin during the Ivy League teams' April 13, 2024, meeting on Scully-Fahey Field in Hanover, N.H. Yale won, 20-13. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission.

Dartmouth College's Vincent Gandolfo works against Yale defenseman Jack Stuzin during the Ivy League teams' April 13, 2024, meeting on Scully-Fahey Field in Hanover, N.H. Yale won, 20-13. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. —Tris Wykes

First-year Dartmouth College men's lacrosse head coach Sean Kirwan, right, watches his team alongside assistant Mikey Herring, during their Ivy League team's April 13, 2024, game against Yale on Scully-Fahey Field in Hanover, N.H. Yale won, 20-13. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission.

First-year Dartmouth College men's lacrosse head coach Sean Kirwan, right, watches his team alongside assistant Mikey Herring, during their Ivy League team's April 13, 2024, game against Yale on Scully-Fahey Field in Hanover, N.H. Yale won, 20-13. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. —Tris Wykes

By TRIS WYKES

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 04-14-2024 6:25 PM

HANOVER — The fruits of yet another Dartmouth College men’s lacrosse rebuilding effort have yet to become publicly evident.

This time, the undertaking is led by first-year coach Sean Kirwan, lured from a high-powered program at the University of Virginia. The New Jersey native has been handed the keys to a jalopy that’s won only two league games since 2015 and made its lone NCAA tournament appearance in 2003.

Thus, the air of amazement when the Big Green took a six-goal lead on No. 7 Yale after a quarter of Saturday’s game at Scully-Fahey Field. Could a team that’s posted two winning Ivy seasons during the past two decades be turning the corner?

The illusion evaporated as Yale scored 19 of the next 21 goals, including a string of 14 in a row, and breezed to a 20-13 victory. Kirwan later spoke of his players’ difficulty throwing and catching and said he’s asking more from them than in past seasons, thoughts repeatedly voiced by his last two predecessors.

“I loved the way our guys came out with a ton of energy and effort,” Kirwan said of his 3-8 squad. “We were right where we wanted to be during the first quarter. The second half obviously left something to be desired.”

Once you get down in Ivy men’s lacrosse, good luck climbing the standings. The circuit annually has five of its seven teams ranked in the top 20 of the 76 NCAA Division I programs. Columbia doesn’t field a team.

Brown, which hosts Dartmouth next weekend, began the week No. 40 and the Big Green was No. 59, behind such lax luminaries as Cleveland State, the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Bellarmine. The Big Green’s victories this spring are against No. 67 Holy Cross, No. 61 Siena and No. 42 Vermont.

Yale “started to win more draws and did a great job with their shot selection,” Kirwan said in explaining how Saturday’s contest got so out of hand so quickly. “One of our Achiles’ heels is unforced turnovers, and it felt like we had too many in the third quarter on offense and in our clearing game.”

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Yale held a 65-36 shot advantage and Dartmouth goaltender Mason Morel, impressive early, made 19 saves. Faceoffs and ground balls were essentially even, but the hosts committed 20 turnovers to the Bulldogs’ 12 and had seven failed clears while the visitors had only two.

Dartmouth’s Colin McGill had three goals and two assists and Henry Bonnie had three goals.

Yale’s “12th, 13th, 14th goal, that was probably the turning point,” said Kirwan, who was previously UVa.’s offensive coordinator and helped it win two national titles. “Even when they tied it and went up one, it still felt like we were in a battle.”

Notes: Dartmouth snapped its own Ivy-record losing streak of 34 games last spring but has lost nine consecutive league contests since that victory over Harvard. … Kirwan was an All-American player at Division III Tufts (Mass.) University and helped the Jumbos win their first national title. He was an assistant with that program when it won its second such crown and was later a Brown assistant when the Bears won back-to-back Ivy titles. … Among the nearly 100 players listed on Saturday’s rosters, none are from New Hampshire, but 10 are from California. Three are from Georgia and Indiana, Maine, Utah and Oregon claimed single representatives. … Former Dartmouth head coach Brendan Callahan, who exited the program after last season, now leads the team at Proctor Academy in Andover, N.H.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.