The Yale women’s lacrosse team finishes its season with a tough matchup, going on the road to visit No. 8 Penn for one last conference game. For the Bulldogs, this will represent one last opportunity for a second Ivy League victory and their first win against a currently ranked team.
The Quakers (12–2, 5–1 Ivy), who are tied for first in the conference, will prove a tough challenge for the Elis; they have won their last six games, good for the eighth-longest winning streak in the country, and have defeated the Elis in every matchup since 2005. Yale (7–8, 1–5) enters the game on a three-game losing streak and will be looking to end the season on a more positive note after a winnable game against Dartmouth in their last appearance at Reese Stadium slipped away last weekend.
“We’re focusing on having a fun but competitive and productive week leading into our last game,” goalie Sydney Marks ’18 said. “We’re incredibly pumped, and we want to see if we can end Penn’s near-perfect regular season on a sour note.”
Although Penn is likely guaranteed an NCAA tournament berth, the team will be playing Sunday with plenty of motivation. The Quakers are just one win away from the program’s 12th conference championship and 10th title since 2007, as they sit in a three-way tie at the top of the table alongside No. 9 Princeton and No. 11 Cornell. Should Penn emerge victorious, there are also multiple scenarios in which the team could host the 2017 Ivy League Tournament.
An important matchup to watch will occur in the draw circle. The Bulldogs are second in the Ivy League, controlling 14.00 draws per game, while the Quakers rank second-to-last in that category, only ahead of Cornell. Last season, Yale nearly defeated the Quakers for the first time in 11 seasons thanks to an advantage in draw controls, but ultimately fell by a single goal, the 9–8 scoreline the closest in the series since a 9–8 Penn victory in 2008.
Against Dartmouth last weekend, Yale had a rare showing where it fell behind on draw controls, which, in a tightly contested game, was a key factor in their one-goal loss. Yale is still 21st in the country in draw controls per game, and midfielder Izzy Nixon ’19 is second in the Ivy League in draw controls with 78. The Elis will look to once again have the edge in draw controls against Penn, as they have been outmatched in this category only four times this season.
Six seniors on both teams will be playing for the last time in the regular season, with Yale’s class of 2017 making its last appearance in Bulldog jerseys. Both teams’ senior classes have made key contributions throughout the year. Penn’s senior goaltender Britt Brown, the reigning Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week, is second in the country in save percentage with 0.558 and is fourth in goals against average. On the offensive side, senior Emily Rogers-Healion is second in scoring for the Quakers, with 27 goals and a team-leading 22 assists. Penn’s senior class is fourth all-time in wins in program history, with 54 over the four-year span, and will be looking to notch another victory at Franklin Field to bolster the class’s already outstanding resume, which includes three straight trips to the conference championship game.
Penn also features the Ivy league Offensive Player of the Week in junior midfielder Alex Condon, whose 41 goals put her at sixth place in all-time single-season scoring for the Quakers.
For Yale, the same two seniors have been standouts all season and have been the driving force behind the Bulldog offense. Captain Tess McEvoy ’17 enters the game with 41 goals and 57 points, which puts her fifth in Ivy League scoring. Meanwhile, attacker Hope Hanley ’17 leads the Ivy League in the category with 30 goals and 48 assists and will set a new single-season record for helpers with every assist she gets in her last game. These 48 assists also put Hanley at second in the NCAA in assists per game, with only Stony Brook’s Kylie Ohlmiller recording more helpers this season.
“I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to play four years on the Yale women’s lacrosse team,” Hanley said. “Although challenging at times, lacrosse has made my time at Yale unforgettable. It pushed me to grow both on and off of the field, and for this I am forever grateful.”
Yale is also close to tying or eclipsing the school record for goals, as the Bulldogs’ 198 strikes this season are just six away from matching the 204 mark set by the 1999 squad. The team has already surpassed last year’s scoring total and set the program record for points in a season. No matter the outcome, Sunday’s contest will be the final match for the distinguished senior class.
“We’re with each other through the wins and losses,” defender Marisa Cresham ’17 said. “Being an athlete and being a part of this team gives me the opportunity to represent Yale in more ways than just academic success, and I think there’s a lot to be said for that. I will be able to leave here with a lot more than book smarts; I will leave knowing I played a part in something bigger.”
The Bulldogs and Quakers square off at 1 p.m. on Sunday in Philadelphia.