WOMEN’S LACROSSE: Bulldogs begin season 3-0

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Photo by The Dartmouth.

Rewind to the year 2001. Wikipedia was less than two months old. Tom Brady was still a no-name backup quarterback for the New England Patriots. Windows XP had yet to be released to the public. And the Yale women’s lacrosse team got off to a 3–0 start for the last time — until this year, that is, a start the Bulldogs secured after soundly beating Dartmouth 12–5 last weekend.

The Elis (3–0, 1–0 Ivy) succeeded against the Big Green (2–1, 0–1 Ivy) on Saturday, relying on a strong second half to pull away and clinch the win.

“This win gave us the mindset of ‘We kind of are the real deal,’” midfielder Lauren Wackerle ’16 said. “Our confidence and momentum was noticeably building throughout the game. We were winning most of the draws, we were being patient and taking good shots, and on the defensive end, we were aggressively causing turnovers.”

Beating Dartmouth, Yale’s first victory over its New Hampshire rival since 2008, was by no means a sure thing at halftime.

Though the Bulldogs had a 4–3 heading into the locker room, the teams traded goals in the first six minutes of the second half, and it seemed like it would be hard for the Elis to break through. But seven unanswered goals in 13:11, including three straight by attacker Kerri Fleishhacker ’15 in a 3:05 span, broke the game open for Yale.

Yale’s emphasis this season on stopping drives and limiting shot opportunities has paid off big thus far. The win over Dartmouth marked the first time since March 2011 that the Bulldogs held three straight opponents under 10 goals, and Saturday’s contest marked the first time that a Yale opponent had scored just five goals in a game since Holy Cross in the 2010 season opener.

Yale goalkeeper Erin McMullan ’14 was recognized for her efforts as the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week. Her goals-against-average of 6.00 ranks second among the Ancient Eight, and she has made 21 consecutive starts for the Elis dating back to the 2012 season.

“All I can say about Erin is that I’m glad she’s on our team because I wouldn’t want to shoot against her in games. It’s frustrating enough in practice,” attacker Nicole Daniggelis ’16 said in an email to the News. “She’s an amazing player who makes big time stops when we need them most, keeping us in close games all the time.”

A key to that defensive prowess has been the outstanding draw control skill of Daniggelis, who holds the Ivy League single-game record for successful controls. Daniggelis had nine versus Dartmouth and 14 against the Sacred Heart Pioneers on Wednesday, one short of her own record. Her average of 10.33 draw controls per game is third in the country.

But Daniggelis has a complete all-around skillset as well, and she leads all Yale players in goals and points on the season. She had eight points in the game against Sacred Heart, and for her exploits she was named as one of the Ivy League Offensive Players of the Week.

Yale plays two home games this week: a Wednesday matchup with Bryant (3–1, 0–0 NEC) and a date with Quinnipiac (0–2, 0–0 MAAC) on Friday.

The Bulldogs won a wild game against Bryant last year 14–13 on the road.

“To beat Bryant tomorrow, we really need to focus on having smart possessions, making each opportunity count and limiting our turnovers,” Daniggelis said. “I think as a team we are really gaining confidence in each other on all fronts of the field.”

During break, Yale will have two conference games against Penn and Harvard.

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