Women’s lax wraps up 2006 with trip to Ithaca

Final exams are nearing; reading week is just hours away. As the academic year wraps up here at Yale this weekend, so will the season for the women’s lacrosse team. But on most Ivy League campuses outside of New Haven, players are still stuck somewhere between midterms and finals, and there is much lacrosse still to be played.

No. 11 Cornell (9-2, 4-1 Ivy) is one of those teams, with four more games scattered over the next two weeks. But the Bulldogs can make all of them meaningless.

The Elis (9-6, 3-3) will take to the Thruway this evening on their way to upstate New York, where a season finale against the Big Red awaits tomorrow afternoon. Though eliminated from Ivy title contention two weeks ago, the red-hot Yale squad, fresh off resounding home triumphs over Cal and Brown, can still ring the death knell for Cornell’s title hopes with a victory in Ithaca.

Midfielder Lindsay Levin ’07 said the momentum from this week, especially Wednesday’s unexpectedly lopsided affair against Brown, can carry the Bulldogs through the competitive match.

“We’re coming off a really good fight,” she said. “And we know Cornell lost to Princeton, a team that we came within one goal of beating. If we play like we did against Princeton, and like we did against Brown, we’re definitely staying in this game Saturday.”

No. 10 Princeton, the very team that knocked Yale out of the Ancient Eight chase with an 8-7 victory April 8, would be the gracious beneficiary of an Eli victory. The Tigers sit at 5-0, and if they beat Dartmouth and 4-1 Cornell falls, the squad from the Garden State will clinch their fourth Ivy ring in five years.

But aside from its 10-6 loss to Princeton three weeks ago, the Big Red is pretty close to perfect in 2006. Goalkeeper Maggie Fava has hunkered down between the posts for all 660 minutes this season, and boasts a bulletproof 6.91 goals-against average, second-best in the entire country.

An explosive offense, anchored by three players in the league top ten in scoring, has scored in double digits in every game except two this year. The first was the six-goal output against Princeton, and the second a victory over No. 13 Syracuse at home Wednesday afternoon — Cornell’s twelfth straight in their daunting home digs.

Several Elis noted the long, dreary bus ride back and forth to Ithaca, more than the expected downpours on Saturday, can always play a factor in the game.

“When it’s a big trip like this, you always get a little more fired up,” Levin said. “We’ve done OK in the rain, and that won’t affect us, but the bus ride back will not be pleasant with a loss.”

Yale has kicked play up a notch on both sides of the ball in recent weeks. After taking a few poundings in the early stages of the season, the Elis have held every opponent to single digits since April 1. Outside of midfielder Lauren Taylor’s ’08 consistent dominance up front — with a league-leading 45 goals through Wednesday — faces both new and old have stepped it up in the last few games.

Middie Sara Greenberg ’09 delighted home fans last Sunday with her breakout six-goal explosion, and attack Carli Vogler ’06 put five shots past the Brown goalie in her Elm City finale Wednesday. Vogler is one of four seniors whose collegiate careers will close out tomorrow. Midfielder Sarah Scalia ’06, goalie Lonnie Sarnell ’06 and attack Caroline Edsall ’06 will also wrap up four years in Bulldog blue against the Big Red.

Midfielder Jenn Warden ’09 said bidding the seniors farewell will be bittersweet.

“The seniors will make a mark for years to come,” she said. “But for us freshmen stuck in the back of the bus, the long bus ride up is going to be light. We’re going to be putting together skits to make fun of the seniors.”

The Elis have a shot to nab their 12th straight season with at least ten victories, as well as their 11th in a row with a winning Ivy record. But most of the squad seems pretty satisfied so long as the Bulldogs play a competitive battle tomorrow. In light of the recent convincing triumphs, the season has already gone much better than many expected.

“When we came into this year, it was looked at as a rebuilding year,” middie Taylor Fragapane ’09 said. “We’re such a young team that regardless of a win, we’ve had a very successful year.”

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