Fun in the sun took on a different meaning for the women’s lacrosse team during the first week of spring break, but its twice-a-day practice sessions in Florida prepared it well for its Ivy League opener against the University of Pennsylvania.
The Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association No. 16 Bulldogs (3-2, 1-0 Ivy) doubled up their Ivy League foe 14-7 Saturday afternoon at Johnson Field. The Elis led 7-6 at the half and Yale’s defense dominated the second, stifling the Quakers (4-3, 0-1) and holding them to one goal. A diversified scoring attack — Yale got seven second half goals from five players — helped pull the Elis above .500.
First Team All-Ivy midfielder Miles Whitman ’04 continued to dominate the opposition, scoring four goals to give her a team-leading 19 on the season. Midfielders Sophie Melniker ’04 and Katherine Sargent ’05 chipped in with hat tricks, including two goals each in the second half.
“[A balanced offense is] going to make or break us this year,” head coach Amanda O’Leary said. “Teams will focus on shutting down Miles [Whitman]. Sophie [Melkiner] has had some tremendous game, she’s really been playing quite well. We’re going to need [juniors] Aly Croffy, Sargent and Sarah Driscoll to step up.”
With ten seconds left in the first, Whitman scored an unassisted tally to give Yale a 7-6 lead at the half that the Elis would not relinquish.
“As a team we knew that we needed the momentum going into the second half,” Whitman said.
In the final 30 minutes, the Bulldogs repeatedly frustrated Penn.
“Our second half was just outstanding,” O’Leary said. “They just came out and played with more confidence.
Goaltender Lonnie Sarnell ’06 turned away almost everything the Quakers threw at her, finishing the game with 10 saves.
“I just need to go in there and get the job done,” said Sarnell, who backed up Amanda Laws ’03 last season. “It’s just what I do. I just need to step up.”
Croffy ’05 scored her second goal of the game, which proved to the clincher, at 20:17 of the second half.
The Bulldogs took control of the game from the get-go, taking a 3-0 lead in the first eight minutes on goals from Melniker, Sargent and Croffy. But the Elis could not hold the lead.
The Quakers stormed back and scored four of the game’s next five goals, en route to ending the half down one.
“We made some mental mistakes in the first half which has plagued us all season,” O’Leary said.
After halftime, the Elis did something they have struggled to do so far this season — finish off opponents.
In a 13-10 victory over the University of New Hampshire (2-4) March 3 and an 11-8 defeat of the University of Connecticut (1-4) March 7, the Bulldogs held big leads in the second half only to win by narrow margins.
“We’ve just been having big momentum issues,” Sarnell said. “Finally yesterday it all came together. Once we scored a couple goals and got a lead, we didn’t give up at all. We didn’t let them get back in it.”
Yale avoided back-to-back losses after a 17-11 defeat at the hands of No. 10 Vanderbilt March 13.
Despite out-shooting the Commodores 32-21 in the contest, the Elis could not solve goaltender Brooke Shinaberry, dropping their second loss to a nationally ranked opponent.
After the loss to Vanderbilt, the Bulldogs headed south for a week of training in Florida. But this was hardly a vacation, with two practices each day.
“[I] worked them harder than I’ve worked any team over spring break,” O’Leary said. “We are quite young. We had to do a lot more coaching versus a lot more playing.”
Expectations are high for Yale, coming off of a tremendously successful season last year. O’Leary’s squad shared the Ivy League crown with No. 11 Dartmouth (2-1, 0-0) and No. 1 Princeton (5-0, 0-0) and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.
“We know what we’re capable of and we’ve seen how far we can go,” Whitman said.
The Bulldogs return to action Wednesday, when they hit the road to face No. 13 Boston University (2-2).