After a heartbreaking loss to No. 3 Princeton last weekend, the No. 7 women’s lacrosse team was looking to rebound against Columbia on Wednesday — and the Bulldogs did not miss a beat.
An 18-2 thrashing was the result of the trip down south, and the Elis (9-1, 4-1 Ivy) showed no mercy for the struggling Columbia squad (2-9, 0-6).
On Wednesday, Clarissa Clarke ’03 drew first blood less than five minutes into play, but the Lions were quick to strike back, tying the game 24 minutes into the fist half.
Then the Bulldogs decided to get serious and prove they were a team worthy of their national ranking, going on to score 16 unanswered goals. The Light Blue would not score again until five minutes into the second half.
“On defense, we were able to tighten up and improve on some of the mistakes we made against Princeton,” captain Liz Gardner ’01 said.
In the second half the Bulldogs worked well down low, setting up their offensive attack. Almost every goal was scored with an assist, showing the Elis ability to work together and run their plays effectively.
The Bulldogs have a tendency not to move much on the attack, a fact that has all but killed them in the past. But against the Lions, no one could tell.
“I noticed a lot more movement than I had in the past,” preseason All-American Megan Strenski ’02 said.
The entire team even saw some playing time, yet there was never a drop in their intensity — a credit to the team’s depth.
All told, 10 Bulldogs contributed to the Eli attack — including Sarah Queener ’03, who had a breakout performance with seven points (four goals and three assists). Clarissa Clarke ’03 added a hat trick while Annie Graf ’03, Carolyn Colacicco ’03 and Anne Myers ’04 all had their first goals of the season.
“That was the entire Yale team totally dominating Columbia,” Gardner said.
Amanda Laws ’03 started her first game of the season as goalie and performed very well, allowing only one goal in the first half.
“[Laws] came up with some big saves early on, and I was really pleased with her performance,” O’Leary said.
But Columbia is nowhere near the team that the Elis will face this weekend — and the Bulldogs know that.
“It wasn’t a blowout straight out of the blocks. We can’t afford that lapse in the future,” Gardner said.
The loss to Princeton has a lot of the Bulldogs looking to this weekend’s matchup against No. 4 Duke as a chance for redemption.
Also, the outcome of this weekend’s game against the powerhouse Blue Devils could determine whether the Bulldogs are invited to the Big Dance later in the year.
But it won’t be easy, since the Bulldogs have played completely opposite games against the Blue Devils for the past two years. In 1999, an outmatched Eli squad upset the No. 3 team in the nation, but in 2000, the 17-4 loss was by far Yale’s worst of the season.
“Last year [Duke] totally embarrassed us, so we want to go out and prove that they need to take us seriously,” Strenski said.
To accomplish the upset, the Elis will need every player to be at the top of her game.
“Duke doesn’t have many weaknesses,” O’Leary said.
According to Gardner, if there is one Achilles’ heel in the Blue Devil defense that Yale can exploit, it will be Duke’s transition defense.
The Bulldogs are very quick and can use their speed on the fast break. They are hoping it will spell victory Saturday.
“Scoring on transition has worked for us all year so we’re going to be looking for that [to score],” Gardner said.
On defense, Yale will try to shut down the speedy Duke midfield and avoid giving up the quick transition goals they hope to be scoring.
“Shutting down the midfield advantage will make all the difference,” Strenski said. “We’re going to stay a lot more compact on defense and not let the offense stretch us out too much.”
One pitfall the Elis ran into against Princeton was that they fell behind early and were always trying to dig themselves out of the hole. Although the team has the talent to comeback, as the five-goal scoring streak against the Tigers showed, the Elis must keep it close to win.
O’Leary said the game will come down to who wants it more.
“It’s a matter of going out and seeing what Duke throws at us and being able to adjust,” she said. “Going out and executing those basics is what’s going to work.”
The game will start Saturday at 1 p.m. at Johnson Field.
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