In its last home game of the season, the women’s lacrosse team suffered a heartbreaking 7-6 loss to No. 17 Cornell, ending the Bulldogs’ chance of finishing the season at .500.
The Elis made four comebacks during the game, but it wasn’t enough to send senior midfielders Jenn Warden ’09 and captain Taylor Fragapane ’09 out on a win.
The story of Saturday’s match-up was patience for both teams on both sides of the ball. There was very little time spent in the middle third of the field, making the draw controls and ground balls very important.
Head coach Anne Phillips stressed the importance of dominating the draw controls against the Big Red. In Tuesday’s match against Wagner, the Elis used the same draw control unit after every goal in preparation for the match against Cornell, Phillips said. It was the Big Red, however, who dominated the draw controls 10-5.
Cornell (8-5, 3-3 Ivy) controlled the ball for the majority of the game, but the Bulldogs (5-9, 1-5) were equally patient on defense, allowing the Big Red to pass the ball around the box all day. And when Cornell did threaten to go to goal, the Elis would collapse on the attacker, making it impossible to shoot past a litany of defenders.
Spearheading the defense was goalie Whitney Quackenbush ’12, who single-handedly kept the Bulldogs in the game. She made eight saves and stopped four of the Big Red’s seven free-position shots in the second half.
“I knew I needed to get some big saves,” Quackenbush said. “Our defense was playing amazing and it was nice to help them out.”
Despite patience on defense, things just could not go the Bulldogs’ way.
With only a few seconds left in the first half and the game tied at three goals apiece, Cornell was on offense working the ball around in a circle. It was evident that they were waiting for the last shot of the half. The Bulldog defense held strong, and it looked as though the two teams would go into the intermission tied, especially when the Elis stripped the ball from a Cornell player. But the Big Red’s Katie Kirk scooped the loose ball for an easy 1-on-1 with Quackenbush. Cornell went into halftime leading 4-3.
“At halftime we just focused on playing our game,” attacker Jenna Block ’10 said. “We wanted to control the tempo and take good shots on goal.”
And it appeared as though the Elis were rejuvenated, eager to upset the heavily favorited Big Red. The first goal of the second half came when attacker Jessica Sturgill ’10 beat her defender on a well executed split-dodge. As if by design or coincidence, the Elis had loaded the top of the 8-meter, drawing out Cornell defenders with them and making Sturgill’s trip to the goal unabated.
With five minutes left in the second half, the two teams were tied with six goals each. Cornell was on the attack and patiently waiting for the go-ahead goal. It came when Jessica Wiegand scored an unassisted goal.
But the Elis would not go without a fight. They controlled the ball for the last minutes of the game, but simply could not find the back of the net. Cornell’s goalie Kristen Reese denied Fragapane on a free-position shot and stopped a bouncing shot by Sturgill in the closing seconds. The offense simply could not convert down the stretch.
“We just made a few stupid mistakes on offense,” Block said. “As an attacker it’s hard for me to admit it, but the defense played well and we on the attack just had a few too many unforced errors.”
Although the Bulldogs did not end their home season with a win, the loss to Cornell did anything but take away from the seniors’ careers.
“My time on this team has been wonderful,” Warden said. “This team has been a huge part of my experience at Yale, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
The Elis will have an 11-day break before they are back on the field for their last two games. They face off against Brown (6-7, 2-3) on April 29 in Providence, R.I.