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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Friday, May 10, 2013

Yale getting ready for NCAA Tournament opener against Penn State

This comes from Register staffer Mary Albl

NEW HAVEN — Typical to the type of person he is, Yale’s Dylan Levings wasn’t fond of all the glitz and glamor that resulted from him being named MVP of the Ivy League lacrosse tournament.
“It was cool momentarily, but the pictures and stuff kind of scared me,” Levings said. “I didn’t really like that as much.”
What he did like was hoisting another trophy and a securing a repeat trip to the NCAA tournament for his team.
The Bulldogs (11-4, 4-2 Ivy) defeated Penn 9-6 last Friday and then beat Princeton 12-8 on Sunday for the Ivy League title. They now travel to Penn State (12-4, 6-0 CAA) for an NCAA tournament first-round matchup with the 13th-seeded Nittany Lions at 2:30 p.m. (ESPNU) on Saturday.
Levings, a junior environmental engineering major, is tabbed as an eccentric individual by his team. He may be a little different, but maybe that’s why his role for the Bulldogs fits him. Levings is the team’s faceoff specialist; a position that many aren’t well-versed in, but one that is so critical to the squad’s success.
“He’s always been exceptional,” head coach Andy Shay said of Levings. “We coach him a little bit, but we try not to screw him up too much.”
This past weekend, Levings won 11 of 17 faceoffs against Penn and then put on a clinic against Princeton. He controlled the game from start to finish, winning 19 of 23 faceoffs, including his first 12 of the game. He also finished with 13 groundballs.
“What he did this weekend was almost unheard of,” junior attacker Brandon Mangan said. “He absolutely dominated the tournament and it means a lot for our offense having so many possessions.”
The heart of Levings’ job is to secure ball possession for Yale. He doesn’t score and won’t be the offensive hero in any game. But his job description is the definition of toughness. He fights tooth and nail and goes stick to stick with his opponent for the ball only to pass off to a teammate that sets up the offense.
“It’s a wrestling match and I like the physical contact,” Levings said.
Shay, who recruited Levings specifically for the role, knew exactly what he was getting. Levings, who played high school lacrosse at Plainedge in Massapequa, N.Y., explained when he first started the sport, he was thrust into the role because he was the strongest. His 5-foot-10, 185-pound frame fits the position to a T.
“I’m short, I’m not tall,” Levings said with a laugh. “It’s good in faceoffs. Same thing when you’re playing line in football; low man wins, lower is better. It’s the only position that I think it’s good to be short; short and strong.”
Levings has since immersed himself in the art of faceoffs. He watches film and does individual workouts. His routine doesn’t follow the typical pattern of his teammates.
“I do a lot of stair running,” he said. “A lot of faceoff is strong legs, pushing people off, so I do extra legs workouts. I can only take a faceoff so many times in practice. I just try to stay healthy and work hard.”
Currently he ranks seventh in the nation in faceoff percentage (.607) and is sixth in groundballs per game (7.93). As a team, Yale is fifth in faceoff percentage.
The Bulldogs will be facing a tough task on Saturday, taking on the No. 2-ranked defense in the country. The Nittany Lions are only allowing 7.44 goals a game and goalie Austin Kaut is second in the nation with a .612 save percentage.
Shay knows the little things make all the difference between a win and loss and advancing to the next round.
“If it’s a close game, then every little possession counts,” Levings said. “We try and out-groundball every team we play. I like to go out there and say it doesn’t matter and we win by 15, but I try to play like we always need every possession.”

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