After dismantling yet another ranked foe yesterday, the women’s lacrosse team probably wishes the season wouldn’t end.
In their season finale, the No. 19 Elis overcame the elements to extend their winning streak to four games as they snuck past No. 15 University of Connecticut, 10-9, at Marrone Stadium. The win is the Elis’ second victory against a nationally-ranked opponent this week, and puts the Bulldogs on the cusp of a bid to the NCAA tournament. The Elis (10-6, 4-3 Ivy) and the Huskies (10-5) were evenly matched for most of the game, but attacker Kat Peetz ’08 was the difference-maker for Yale, notching the game-winner with under 30 seconds left.
“It was a really close game,” captain Kerry Docherty ’05 said. “We scored in the last minute, so it was very tense, and the fog added to the drama. It was definitely important for us to end on this win. Before we got nostalgic, we wanted to make sure we went out on a bang.”
The win concludes a roller-coaster season for the Bulldogs, with a particularly impressive second-half making up for a disappointing start. The Elis opened their season 2-4, including losses to Penn and Dartmouth in their first two Ivy League contests. After their fourth loss, at the hands of the Big Green, the season outlook was dismal for the Bulldogs.
But the Elis began to turn things around following a 19-4 trouncing of Fairfield March 30. The Bulldogs went 7-2 the rest of the way, losing only to perennial powerhouse No. 4 Princeton and to No. 20 Stanford. In a three-week span, the Elis racked up all four of their Ivy League wins, carrying them from the bottom of the conference up to third-place.
“We definitely had some ups and downs, like losing to an unranked Rutgers but coming within one goal of Dartmouth and beating BU,” midfielder Lindsay Levin ’07 said. “It was really exciting, and now we’re on the bubble for the NCAA playoffs.”
The Eli defense has been the team’s saving grace all season long — and yesterday was no different. Led by Docherty and veteran defenders Kira Licata ’05 and Lisa Reindl ’05, the Bulldogs have given up just 105 goals this year, compared to the 132 they allowed during the 2004 season. The only team to have scored more than 10 goals against the Elis was Princeton, who defeated Yale 11-5. Against UConn last night, the Bulldog defense held the Huskies’ leading attacker, Tracy Mullaney, scoreless for the entire game, a feat which no other team has accomplished in over 20 games.
Yale’s attack has also been dominated by seniors this year. Midfielder Katie Sargent ’05 is second on the team with 37 season goals, and midfielders Aly Croffy ’05 and Sarah Driscoll ’05 rest in third and fourth place, respectively. Sargent contributed five goals in her last collegiate contest, including three in the first 25 minutes to help give Yale a two-goal advantage — the largest lead either team had during the matchup.
Peetz commented on the enormous effect the class of 2005 has had on this year’s squad.
“I think they’ve made a huge impact on the team,” she said. “We’re going to miss them a lot next year. They’ve carried us through the season and led us to all the success we’ve had this year. We look up to them as role models.”
The Bulldogs played a give-and-take match against UConn, with the two teams constantly trading the lead and control of the ball. Neither team was able to get a significant advantage over the other, and play remained even through all 60 minutes. Weather conditions were horrible, and both teams suffered from a damp, slippery field and a fog which severely limited visibility.
“The game was exciting because it was really foggy,” Levin said. “Sitting on the sidelines, you couldn’t see the far end of the field. It was muddy and just gross.”
Despite the poor playing conditions, the Elis had the 6-5 advantage going into halftime, but the Huskies earned a 7-6 lead just minutes into the second half. With a little less than 10 minutes left on the clock, the Elis found themselves ahead by one goal. But the Huskies’ Heather McHugh slipped the ball past Eli netminder Lonnie Sarnell ’06 with three minutes remaining in play to tie the game at 9-9.
UConn got the resulting draw control, and the Huskies held onto the ball for the next two minutes, hoping to get the last shot and keep Sargent and attacker Lauren Taylor ’08, who already had four goals, away from their net. With about a minute left, the Huskies decided to make their move and sent an attacker through the crease to attack Sarnell in net. But Sarnell came up with a huge save for the Elis, and the offense was able to make a quick transition and start looking for its shot.
Peetz ended up with the ball with just over 30 seconds to play, and made a quick drive into the UConn defense. She was unable to get a shot off, however, and the ball was knocked out of her stick, bungling the Elis’ attack plans. But Peetz stuck with the play and managed to tap the ball, which was bouncing along the ground, into the back of the UConn net, past goaltender Kristen Haldeman for the most unlikely of goals.
“I was kind of looking to my seniors for some leadership and for them to take the ball in and take the shot,” Peetz said. “But I guess I just had the ball and it was in my hands. I don’t really know what happened, but I scored. I did it for the seniors; it was their last game.”
The win was the Elis’ second consecutive one-goal victory. The Elis defeated No. 15 Cornell 9-8 last Saturday in their final homestand of the season. Proving that they can come out on top of close contests was a major accomplishment for the Bulldogs, who had previously lost all four of their games decided by a single goal.
“The win was especially huge,” Levin said. “We won this game 9-8 and in the beginning of the season, we lost almost all our games by one goal. To pull out the last two games by one goal from teams that were ranked, it was really a nice ending to the season.”