Nine straight Notre Dame goals yesterday proved the difference in the Fighting Irish’s upset of the Yale women’s lacrosse team.
In a game filled with questionable officiating and multiple Bulldog yellow cards, No. 7 Yale (9-3, 4-1 Ivy) took a 4-0 lead, but squandered it to an aggressive Notre Dame squad (8-3) and fell 9-6 at Johnson Field.
The Bulldogs got no help from the referees as seemingly every call went against Yale. Still, they pointed to their own play as the chief factor in the loss.
“There were definitely some calls that went against us that we didn’t agree with,” captain Liz Gardner ’01 said. “But we weren’t able to play through it.”
The Bulldogs played a physical game that drew a number of fouls on both offense and defense. Yale could not hold on to the ball on offense and could not make a clean stop on defense, allowing the Irish many free shot opportunities.
Assistant coach Cristi Samaras said the officiating only added insult to injury.
“We had bigger problems than the officials [yesterday],” she said.
In stark contrast to the the game’s final outcome, during the first half of play it seemed that the Elis could do no wrong, taking a 4-0 lead by the 18th minute.
The Bulldogs utilized their quick midfielders to set up their potent transition offense. Midfielder Katherine Myers ’01 scored a pair of goals, one of which she brought all the way from midfield, dashing between several Irish defenders to score. Leading scorer Miles Whitman ’04 and attacker Clarissa Clarke ’03 tallied one goal apiece.
On the opposite end of the field, the Bulldog defense kept up its tenacity from Saturday’s defensive standoff against Duke. Yale held the offense of the fourth-ranked Blue Devils to only a handful of goals in the 5-2 loss. It appeared as if Yale would dominate the entire game on both ends of the field.
But after taking a comfortable lead, the Bulldogs seemed to get complacent and let up on the attack.
“I don’t think we took this team as seriously as we needed to,” Gardner said. “We saw how Duke had played against [Notre Dame] so we felt we could come out here and dominate the game, but we got the lead and then let up.”
Duke scored 11 goals and shut out Notre Dame in the second half en route to a 16-4 win Friday.
Midway through the first half, the Irish broke through the door left open by the Bulldogs, scoring three goals before the period’s end. The Elis were hit with foul after foul, continually giving the Irish free shots or favorable field position, and the intensity of the Bulldogs’ play seemed to suffer.
Notre Dame head coach Tracy Coyne noted that many calls went her team’s way. The Irish were able to capitalize on the many Yale fouls.
The Bulldogs took the field for the second half clinging to a 4-3 advantage. But Yale could not regain any offensive momentum. It was Irish captain Alissa Moser who came out blazing, paving the way for the Notre Dame win. Moser scored three straight goals — two in a span of only 18 seconds — to steal the lead for good.
Moser’s effort and the consistency of calls against Yale seemed to break the Elis’ spirits in the second half.
Yale’s play never returned to its first half brilliance, and by the time the clock had ticked down to only eight minutes remaining, the Fighting Irish had scored three more times — extending their lead to five.
In the final minutes, Myers and fellow midfielder Kate Flatley ’01, seemingly enlived with a sense of urgency, mounted a late two-goal comeback, bringing the score to 9-6. But the Bulldogs’ rally came too late, and the Irish held on for the upset.
The loss will be a tough one for the Bulldogs to swallow, according to Gardner. But Samaras hopes this game will provide fuel for the team’s remaining four games of the season.
Yale next travels to Providence Wednesday to face Brown in a must-win Ancient Eight battle. The Elis are still in the running with first-place Princeton for the Ivy crown. If Yale can win its final two league games and get some help in the form of a Big Green win over the Tigers Saturday, the Bulldogs will tie for the title.
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