Both the Yale women’s lacrosse team and the New Hampshire team had lost their season openers. Yesterday at Johnson Field, however, it looked as if neither team wanted to lose another game ever again.
After jumping out to an early 8-0 lead, the Bulldogs (1-1) had to withstand a strong second half rally by New Hampshire (0-2) before securing a 13-10 win. Yale’s first win came on the heels of a close 9-7 loss to James Madison in the Elis’ season opener last Sunday at home.
“[The UNH game] was like a rollercoaster,” Yale head coach Amanda O’Leary said. “We went on a quick 8-0 run and then they came back on a 6-0 run. We need to eliminate that change of momentum. That’s the same thing that happened against James Madison. It is something we need to really work on, the ability to control the momentum of the game.”
Yale midfielder Miles Whitman ’04 spearheaded the attack for the Bulldogs in the first half, scoring five goals while picking up two assists, while fellow midfielder Sophie Melniker ’04 added to the Eli total with two tallies.
“[Whitman] definitely utilized her speed and put the ball away,” O’Leary said. “She had a much better shooting percentage, and I think she did a really nice job. She was key in that early run.”
The stifling Bulldog defense, led by captain Jen Kessel ’04, as well as excellent play by goalie Lonnie Sarnell ’06, who made her second collegiate start, kept UNH scoreless for much of the first half.
The Wildcats finally got on the board 25:30 into the first half, when UNH attackman Kelley Blaney, standing behind the net, fed the ball to midfielder Jess Burnap who found the back of the net. UNH struck again before halftime when Burnap converted on a free-position shot.
Yale started the second half with an 8-2 lead but quickly saw it diminish as UNH scored four more unanswered goals.
Just 1:15 into the second half, UNH attackman Katie Leland came around from behind the net, rolled inside on her defenseman, and scored on a bounce shot. Wildcat midfielder Kristen Blanchette continued the goal streak on a free position shot and Jill Albee scored again just 20 seconds later after dodging through the Yale defense.
After Burnap cut the Bulldog lead to two goals on another free position shot, O’Leary called a timeout to allow the Yale team to regroup.
Following the timeout, Midfielder Katie Sargent ’05 gave the Elis a much needed spark. Midfielders Sarah Driscoll ’05, who was coming off a bad ankle sprain, and Alessandra Croffy ’05 each found Sargent on the crease for two Bulldog scores. Soon after, Sargent scored her third straight goal after dodging a UNH defender.
“Sarah Driscoll coming back from a serious ankle sprain and coming in there and playing almost the entire game shows a lot of heart and character,” O’Leary said.
Yale failed to keep the momentum as the Wildcats battled back with another goal by Burnap off a free position shot. Only a minute later, UNH attackman Jill Albee sprinted all the way from midfield, dodged a Yale defender and fired a shot upper corner to cut the Eli lead to three.
The Elis responded when Melniker rifled an accurate shot from the perimeter. The Wildcats would not go quietly, countering with two goals of their own.
After a key save by Sarnell with less than three minutes to play, UNH trailed 12-10 and Whitman had the ball for Yale. Trying to shut off a Bulldog player, Wildcat goalie Julie Bevad left the net; Whitman saw the opening and dodged her defenseman for a wide opened shot and her sixth goal of the game to close out the 13-10 victory.
“We came out really strong in the first half,” Kessel said. “We pretty much did everything we had to do. The attackmen put the ball in the net. The second half we kind of let up a little on the defense. The main things we need to work on are communication and picking the ball up when it is on the ground.”
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