Since dropping its season opener to James Madison University, 14-7, March 9, the women’s lacrosse team (4-1, 1-0 Ivy) has won five straight games, including a 7-6 upset of nationally-ranked No. 10 Notre Dame.
No. 15 Yale’s original season opener, scheduled March 5 against the University of New Hampshire, was postponed by a New Haven snowstorm. Instead, the Elis got their first start four days later in State College, Pa. Yale’s opponent, James Madison, already had two games under its belt, and the difference in battleground experience hurt the Bulldogs.
“Your first game is always going to be a challenge,” midfielder Miles Whitman ’04 said. “There’s a reason that we scheduled [New Hampshire] before [James Madison]. JMU is a much better team. [JMU] played a great game, and we came out and played like it was our first game. We had moments of brilliance, but, as the coach emphasized after the game, we needed to put together two complete, back-to-back halves.”
James Madison’s Lisa Staedt found the net five times to lead the Dukes. Jessica Brownridge and Betsey Priest chipped in two goals apiece. On Yale’s end, Whitman and midfield Katie Sargent ’05 scored two each.
Yale did not have to wait long for redemption. In Yale’s home opener three days later, Yale weathered a second-half surge by the University of Connecticut to notch its first win, 9-7.
Going up early against Connecticut, Yale had the opposite start against Vanderbilt March 14. The Commodores scored six goals in the opening 10 minutes to take a 6-1 advantage. But Yale roared back.
“[Vanderbilt] knew how to take the ball well in transition,” Whitman said. “One of the things we needed to do was not allowing them to penetrate on transition. The defense took a hard look at the 6-1 run, and every player stepped up on her player.”
The Yale defense protected its 11-8 halftime lead, allowing only one more Vanderbilt score in the entire second frame. Meanwhile, the Elis added four more goals to extend their cushion. Sargent paced the Elis with five goals, four of which were unassisted. For her impressive performance, Sargent made the Ivy League March 17 Honor Roll.
Perhaps Yale’s most impressive win came 7-6 over Notre Dame March 18 at the Disney Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. The Fighting Irish were picked by Lacrosse Magazine to finish No. 6 in the nation this spring.
Five different Elis scored in the first half to give Yale a 5-3 lead. The two sides traded goals in the second half until back-to-back goals by Notre Dame’s Danielle Shearer and Abbey Owens brought the Fighting Irish within one, 7-6, with 2:23 left.
In the final 30 seconds, Shearer had two great scoring chances, but the luck of the Irish ran out; the long arm of goalie Amanda Laws ’03 preserved the Eli win. After stopping a dangerous attempt from in close, Laws made a clearing attempt that ended in the hands of Notre Dame midfielder Andrea Kinnik. Kinnik fed Shearer, who was fouled with one second left on the clock. Law stopped the ensuing free-position shot from Shearer to maintain the upset.
“[Law’s performance] was huge,” Sara Queener ’03 said. “It was their top player taking both those shots. We were trying to clear it out, and they broke through our defensive clear. But the defensive effort was really strong, and Amanda was huge for us at the end there.”
Yale had a similar scare Saturday against the University of Pennsylvania. A four-goal scoring rampage by Whitman gave the Elis a 5-3 lead with 11:15 left in the first half. The Bulldogs enjoyed a 7-4 edge at halftime, but the Quaker offense refused to quit, scoring three of the first four goals over the opening 11 minutes of the second half to narrow the Yale lead to 8-7. Sargent answered the Pennsylvania charge, scoring back-to-back goals only 18 seconds apart.