If the last five games are any indicator of what the women’s lacrosse team is capable of, then Princeton is going to have a tough battle ahead of it on Saturday.
The Bulldogs have so far outperformed opponents in a torrential downpour, avenged last year’s defeats against Ivy foe Harvard and posted a season-high single-game tally of 17 goals. Currently in the midst of a five-game winning streak, the Elis are running high on momentum.
No. 15 Yale (9-3, 2-1 Ivy) plays No. 9 Princeton (4-3, 1-0 Ivy) at Johnson Field on Saturday. The Elis still have a chance to win the Ancient Eight title, but to move one step further, it is essential that they overcome the Tigers. Princeton, along with Penn, are the only teams that are still undefeated in the league.
“We are excited for the opportunity to prove how much talent our team really has,” captain Lindsay Levin ’07 said. “If we play smart lacrosse and control the tempo of the game, we can definitely knock off Princeton. If we win this game, our prospects at having a piece of the Ivy title are high.”
Aside from strengthening their Ivy title bid, a victory would also help the Bulldogs in terms of their regional ranking in the race for an NCAA tournament berth.
History is not friendly to that idea. The Bulldogs have lost 14 of their last 15 meetings with Princeton, including last year’s epic battle at Class of 1952 Stadium. But Yale was victorious in 2003, handing the Tigers their only loss to an Ivy team other than Dartmouth since 1994.
Team members said they are confident of their chances against the Princeton perennial powerhouse.
“I don’t think any of us are walking into this game thinking we don’t have a chance of winning,” midfielder Taylor Fragapane ’09 said. “We have a very good chance of winning. They are a tough team and it’s going to be close. We need to put together a 60-minute game and not give away any chances, as they’re good enough to capitalize on our mistakes.”
Last year, 10 saves by goalkeeper Ellen Cameron ’08 were not enough to secure a victory, and the Elis lost to the Tigers, 8-7, in New Jersey. Cameron is coming off a season-high 14 saves in the Harvard game last weekend and will be looking to replicate the performance tomorrow.
Despite emphatic wins over both Harvard and Holy Cross in Yale’s last two matchups, the Elis started off both games shakily, only extending their lead convincingly in the second half. Several players said the team needs to play well through both halves rather than part of the game, and there are certain areas on which they plan to concentrate.
“We are going to focus on maintaining possession and controlling the pace of the midfield so that we have the upper hand,” defender Jenn Warden ’09 said. “A lot will rest upon our ability to come out strong with the first whistle — we can’t rely upon a strong second-half performance to overcome a team like Princeton. If we come out shaky, they will try to capitalize on that.”
As for the defending Ivy champions, the game is also crucial for the Tigers, who are looking to catch up to Penn’s 3-0 record in the Ancient Eight competition so far.
With an impressive 74-1 record against the six Ivy schools other than the Big Green, and a perennially higher ranking than the Elis, Princeton is set to give Yale a run for its money. But familiar terrain and home support is on the Bulldogs’ side.
“This season, we’ve won every single game at home,” midfielder Lisa McKenna ’07 said. “There’s definitely a home advantage. I think we just want to keep control of the game, minimize our own mistakes and just dominate the field [on Saturday].”