After a tough loss at home over the weekend, the women’s lacrosse team ventured into the Lions’ den and came out unscathed.
Led by a trio of Elis who had at least three goals apiece, Yale (4-8, 1-4 Ivy) got their first conference win with Wednesday’s victory over Columbia (5-6, 0-5), who has yet to win an Ivy League game. The Lions, who started the season with an impressive 5-0 opening, have since gone 0-6 and have allowed at least 15 goals in their four games leading up to this weekend. The Bulldogs, who now boast an undefeated streak against Columbia since the series began in 1997, extended that streak to 13-0 with a 12-6 victory over the Lions.
“It feels great,” attacker Jessica Sturgill ’10 said. “It’s good to get this win under our belt. Hopefully it will give us some momentum going into the rest of our games.”
Sturgill led the Bulldogs with four goals. She was closely followed by midfielders Jenn Warden ’09 and Ariana Papier ’11, who each had a hat trick of their own. Midfielder Sarah David ’10 and defender Michele Fiorentino ’10 also contributed a goal.
The Elis defeated the Lions 16-8 last year. And while that victory was here on the Elis’ home turf, the Bulldogs did not rely on history when it came to preparing for their match against Columbia.
“We were expecting to have a tough game,” captain and midfielder Taylor Fragapane ’09 said. “Yes it’s nice knowing we have beaten them in the past, but we also know that you can’t take anything for granted.”
The opening minutes of the match were marked by neck-and-neck play between the two teams. The Elis were the first to get on the scoreboard with goals by Papier and Sturgill. But a pair of goals from the Lions’ Brittany Shannon tied the game. By halftime, the Elis held only a slim one goal advantage over the Columbia, 4-3.
“We didn’t really finish in the first half,” head coach Anne Phillips said. “But I was proud to see that we broke the game opened in the second half. We slowed the pace, got better looks at the cage, and finally found the back of the net.”
The Elis doubled the amount of goals they scored in the first, posting a total of eight goals in the second half. At the same time, the Lions were limited to just three goals by the Bulldogs defense.
The surge in goals over the second half can be attributed to the Yale offense, which has recently stressed playing a team style. The new style stresses having off-the-ball movement result in unmarked cutters who get easy shots on goal.
“We really wanted to play as a unit,” Sturgill said. “It doesn’t matter who gets the goals, we just want to play together as a team.”
This increased success of this team-oriented offense was evident in the 16 shots the Elis posted in the second half, compared to only 11 in the first. The Lions defended Warden, the Bulldogs leading scorer, closely the entire game. It was important, Phillips said, that other players stepped up and scored when Warden was double-teamed.
For the Elis, the win comes at an critical point in the season. With four games left, the Bulldogs can still finish the season above .500. For the moment, however, the Bulldogs will have the longest break of their season. They head back to the field on Tuesday, April 14, when they host Wagner at Reese Stadium at 4 p.m..
“We’re a little banged up right now,” Phillips said. “We could definitely use the rest.”