The women’s lacrosse team barely squeaked out a win against Harvard yesterday, scoring with only 1.9 seconds left in regulation to edge the Cantabs 10-9.
In a classic matchup where pride matters more than rankings, the No. 9 Bulldogs (7-0, 3-0 Ivy) kept with tradition, defeating Harvard (4-3, 0-2) by just a single goal for the fourth time in four years, at Jordan Field in Cambridge.
“It’s that natural Harvard-Yale rivalry,” head coach Amanda O’Leary said of the consistently close game.
On paper, the Elis are by far the better team, but that was little solace for the Bulldogs when they took the field yesterday.
“They always come out to play us,” midfielder Kate Flatley ’01 said. “And [yesterday], they were really aggressive and physical, and we just didn’t have it together.”
Attacker Katherine Myers ’01 was Sunday’s hero, breaking the 9-9 tie in the closing seconds to give the Bulldogs their seventh win in as many games. She and up-and-coming attacker Sophie Melniker ’04 each had hat-tricks in the victory.
“Myers was all over the field [yesterday], and it was great that she was able to put that last shot in the goal,” goalie Amanda Sisley ’03 said.
Myers opened the scoring for the Bulldogs, threading the needle less than two minutes into play, and then Melniker extended the lead to two at 14:52.
But the Crimson stormed back with three quick goals, two from Harvard’s star Alli Harper, who had five goals on the afternoon.
Myers and Melniker each notched another goal, quelling the Crimson attack, to regain the lead 4-3. But the red-hot Harper rifled her third goal of the day with 10 seconds left in the half to knot the game at four.
The see-saw battle continued in the second half, each team exchanging goals but neither able to take more than a one-goal lead.
With eight minutes remaining, the Cantabs and the Bulldogs were deadlocked at 9.
The Bulldogs then looked to strategy to win the game. They ran a possession offense, attempting to control the ball in the Harvard zone for the last few minutes of play, hoping to score on the last shot of the game.
With two minutes to go in regulation, the Bulldogs gained control deep in the Crimson end. Attacker Sarah Queener ’03 got the call to take the final shot in the last eight seconds and drove the crease, but met two Harvard defenders in her way.
Luckily, Queener saw an open Myers and dished what the team dubbed a miraculous pass just in time for the senior to slingshot the game-winning backhand.
“Winning in that fashion is amazing, but I don’t think anyone was really content,” defender Megan Strenski ’02 said. “It shouldn’t have been that close.”
This victory came without the team’s leading scorer, Miles Whitman ’04, who was sidelined early in the game because of a lingering ankle injury suffered a week ago against No. 11 Dartmouth.
“She was definitely missed in the midfield, but we beat Dartmouth without her too,” Flatley said, in reference to the depth of skill of the team.
In this high-scoring shootout, netminder Sisley played a critical role, making a season high 13 saves.
But a modest Sisley gave most of the credit to the defense.
“Having Liz Gardner [’01] and Megan Strenski and the whole defense behind me makes me so much more confident,” Sisley said.
With the win, Yale saved its undefeated record and its shot at the Ivy crown. The Elis currently sit atop the Ivy League, one game ahead of No. 3 Princeton.
Once the Elis recover from this nailbiter, they will turn their attention to Wednesday’s game against Holy Cross and this weekend’s showdown with the Tigers, with the Ivy League lead on the line.
“We have a tendency to play down to teams, so we have to get through Holy Cross before we can think about Princeton,” Sisley said.