The women’s lacrosse team clamped down its defense in the second half to defeat Holy Cross on Saturday morning in the team’s season opener at Reese Stadium.
Heading into the first game of the season, the Bulldogs (1–0, 0–0 Ivy) faced a tough Crusaders team (0–3, 0–0 Patriot) that had already competed in two games prior to its matchup with the Elis.
“Our goal was to play up-tempo and make Holy Cross play fast,” head coach Anne Phillips wrote in an email. “We are a faster, deeper team and we wanted to use that to our advantage. We also wanted to score first!”
Yale started the game off strong, scoring twice in the first two minutes to take a 2–0 lead.
The lead, however, would be short-lived, as Holy Cross rallied to tie the game at two goals less than five minutes later. The Crusaders pushed their momentum throughout the rest of the half, holding the Bulldogs to only one more goal for the rest of the opening period while scoring five more themselves. Heading into halftime, Holy Cross held a 7–3 advantage, challenging the Elis to rally in the second half.
“The first half of the Holy Cross game was a shock to us,” midfielder Erin Magnuson ’15 said. “We came out strong, going up 2–0 in the first 10 minutes, but then started to get sloppy. We had 11 turnovers [in] the first half, and that was our downfall. I think a lot of us were too amped up in the first half, which prevented us from playing calm and smart.”
Goalkeeper Erin McMullan ’14 said the Elis struggled to maintain possession and committed unforced turnovers. She noted, however, that the second half was a completely different story.
According to Phillips, the team reset for the second half, putting away its opening game jitters. The Bulldogs dominated the second half 7–1 on the scoreboard en route to a big opening day win.
Attacker Jen DeVito ’14 said that although the team started off shaky, a shift in energy and momentum in the second half allowed Yale to take the lead and keep it.
“After halftime, we knew that we were not playing our game,” Magnuson said. “We should not have gone down by four in the first place, but it pushed us to work even harder. We tied the game up seven minutes into the second half. That quick change in momentum really gave us the confidence we needed to win.”
Entering the final period of the game, the Elis were relentless. McMullan said the team took care of the ball on offense, scoring on a number of opportunities.
Phillips also mentioned the tremendous defensive effort by the Bulldogs, as they forced Holy Cross into eight turnovers in the second half after the Crusaders committed only three in the first half.
“Winning the draw and great play by our defense were critical components of the win,” Phillips said. “Also, getting big saves from Erin McMullan in the second half and holding Holy Cross to one goal in the final period was huge.”
Seven different players scored goals on Saturday — including Magnuson who scored three times — showcasing the team’s depth. Two freshmen also started for the Elis, and Tess McEvoy ’17 scored in her first collegiate game.
DeVito added that the victory in the season opener will help to start the Bulldogs off on the right paw.
“I think this game was an important confidence booster and shows that we are heading in a good direction,” DeVito said. “But moving forward we know the things we need to work on as we take on our big rivals within the Ivy League over the course of the next few weeks.”
The Elis will look to build on their success in the season’s first game as they prepare to face Sacred Heart and Dartmouth on the road this week.