Senior middies shine, netting 21 Eli goals

Midfielders Miles Whitman ’04 and Sophie Melniker ’04 put on a senior show for the crowd at Johnson Field in back-to-back games Saturday.

The Elis’ two leading goal scorers combined for 21 of Yale’s 34 goals in a pair of victories during a rare doubleheader. Neither the University of California-Berkeley nor Monmouth could find an answer to the duo, as Yale (9-4, 3-2 Ivy) handily defeated each opponent 16-6 and 18-10, respectively. In addition to Whitman and Melniker, captain Jen Kessel ’04 and midfielder Jennifer Voorhees ’04 were honored before the Monmouth game during senior day ceremonies.

With two games scheduled six hours apart, Saturday’s games were a test of endurance for the Bulldogs.

“They mentally pulled together,” Yale head coach Amanda O’Leary said. “It’s a real tribute to our team. We’ve had a roller coaster ride, but for them to be able to put the physical game behind them, it was great to see.”

Against the Golden Bears in the day’s first tilt, Yale came out fired up, jumping out to a 6-0 lead, with Whitman scoring the first three goals.

“Miles is Miles, and you can always count on her to go coast to coast and on most occasions she’s going to score that goal,” O’Leary said. “She definitely has been a huge asset to this team.”

With her second goal of the game, the Baltimore native became Yale’s second all-time leading goal scorer, and now trails only Tracy Ball ’81 by 36 goals.

“It’s really exciting,” Whitman said. “It’s not something I really thought about. It was definitely exciting to find about.”

Midfielder Kira Licata ’05 scored her first career goal at 12:46 to cap the game-opening run for the Elis.

Defender Jess Champion ’07 and Kessel, one of the Ivy League leaders in caused turnovers, led the defense, keeping Cal off of the board until 13:26 into the first half. Goaltender Lonnie Sarnell ’06 did her share, making nine saves on 20 shots and outplaying counterpart Hilary Lynch.

“Both of those games were the two best games I’ve seen Lonnie [Sarnell] play in her career,” O’Leary said. “That’s what sparks your team. It sparks everybody. I was really impressed with her play [Saturday].”

Though Cal midfielder Molly Brady tallied the first goal of the second half at 1:19, a Whitman goal followed by three straight Melniker scores extended Yale’s lead to 12-3.

On the rare occasions the Bears were able to find the net, Yale always had an answer. Midfielder Katie Brownson ’05 got on the score sheet with a goal at 16:52, and Whitman netted the Elis’ final three goals. Whitman — a candidate for the Tewaaraton Award, given to women’s lacrosse’s best collegiate player — finished the game with seven goals and one assist.

In the nightcap, Melniker and midfielder Katie Sargent ’05 paced Yale with six goals apiece.

“First and foremost, my teammates were setting me up all day for the lefty isolation, which the other teams didn’t seem to recognize,” Melniker said. “We also had some pretty sweet fan support for both games, which always gets me pumped.”

There were over 130 fans at both games.

Against Monmouth, Whitman was able to balance her ability to find the net with her distribution skills, finishing with three goals and four assists, totaling 15 points on the day.

After Yale got out to a 4-1 lead roughly 12 minutes into the game, the Hawks mounted a comeback, with Laura Levins, Jeaette Stott, and Jennie Versaggi pulling Monmouth even with the Elis.

“We came out and maybe we didn’t have quite the momentum,” Whitman said. “We realized that we needed to pick it up and play our game.”

Fatigue and almost one and a half games of lacrosse already aside did not stop the senior duo of Whitman and Melniker from elevating their play. Whitman scored on a free position shot at 25:24 and Melniker scored three unassisted goals in a row to take Yale into halftime with an 8-4 lead.

“[That’s] why seniors are so crucial to teams,” O’Leary said. “They weren’t going to lose. The other teams saw Sophie [Melniker] go hard and to show that kind of courage on the field, it uplifted her teammates.”

Sargent scored four goals in the second half with midfielders Aly Croffy ’05 and Marly Gillece ’06 chipping in with one goal each.

The Hawks were able to take advantage of a tired Yale defense at times in the second half, netting six goals, including two from Stacy Sydlow.

Despite boosting their season win total by two in one day, do not look for anymore doubleheaders in the Elis’ recent future.

“Never ever again,” O’Leary said. “That will be the first and last doubleheader I will ever participate in. I like the one game thing.”

In their final home game of the year, Yale hosts Brown (5-4, 2-2) Wednesday as it tries to solidify its case for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“We absolutely have to finish up [strong],” Whitman said. “It tends to be a bit of a crapshoot for us. We always finish in that bubble region.”

A pack of Golden Bears swarms Eli midfielder Sophie Melniker ’04 (No. 16 ) during Yale’s 16-6 victory over the University of California-Berkeley on Saturday at Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium.
Laura Warren
A pack of Golden Bears swarms Eli midfielder Sophie Melniker ’04 (No. 16 ) during Yale’s 16-6 victory over the University of California-Berkeley on Saturday at Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium.

Comments