On Saturday, the Bulldogs set off for the home of their longtime rivals in an attempt to regain lost glory. A few hours later, they were on the bus back from Cambridge, having more than doubled the Crimson point total.
No. 16 Yale (8-3, 2-1 Ivy) defeated Harvard (2-6, 0-1 Ivy), 17-8, to secure their second Ivy victory of the season and to spoil Harvard’s league debut. The Elis had lost to the Crimson last year, and Saturday’s decisive win was revenge of sorts.
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“We definitely wanted to avenge last years’ loss,” midfielder Lindsay Levin ’07 said. “We knew going in that we needed to work harder even though we are ranked higher than them. We were a little too confident last year and ended up losing to a team we were better than. We just went in there to play our game and do what we can do best.”
Yale lost 11-8 to the Crimson for the first time in 11 years on April 1, 2006, in a heartbreaking game at Johnson Field. Team members said that going into the game this year, the theme of the afternoon was payback.
“This year, we came into the game knowing we were better than them, as a team,” attacker Lawrie Peck ’09 said. “We came out in the first half on our heels, but we were making stupid mistakes. In the second half, we picked it up and broke away with a strong lead. Even though we were more skilled than them, it ultimately came down to hustle and heart.”
Players said Harvard was definitely within range in the first half, and they attributed the victory to a spectacular second-half run on offense.
“There is pressure on us, but we are confident in our ability,” Levin said. “We know that if we play our game we have a good chance for the rest of season. It is exciting for everyone as the prospects for the Ivy title and an NCAA berth are high. We’re just going to take one game at a time and prepare diligently.”
Harvard only held the lead in the first half and could not push its advantage past two goals. Yale goalkeeper Ellen Cameron ’08 saved 14 shots, eight of which were in the second half. Midfielder Lauren Taylor ’08 had the most prolific day of offense, scoring six goals to contribute to the highest point total for the Bulldogs in over a year.
“Our goalie, Ellen Cameron, had a really great game,” Levin said. “But it was a real team effort. Our main focus is not relying on any individual player and having contributions all around, which is working. There were multiple goals scored by several different players and the defense worked together as a team.”
Midfielder Taylor Fragapane ’09 said the victory was a solid one, but the team needed to keep working on keeping the intensity high throughout the game.
“I’m happy that we pulled it out but not happy that we didn’t come out for 40 of the 60 minutes,” she said. “Once we pulled it together, it was more indicative of what we are capable of — I’m proud of that.”
The Bulldogs face Holy Cross on Wednesday in their only remaining non-Ivy League matchup of the season. Even though Yale defeated Holy Cross, 12-3, last year, the Elis expect the Crusaders to put up a tough fight. The game is not an Ancient Eight encounter, but Fragapane said it is important in terms of their regional standings.
“We can’t think of Holy Cross as a practice match,” Peck said. “They’re better than they were last year. If we go out there thinking it’s a given win, then we’ll get blown away. We’re definitely taking on one game at a time.”
After playing Holy Cross, Yale will return to Johnson Field on Saturday to take on Ivy foes Princeton.