After avenging a 2003 loss to Rutgers Wednesday, the tables were turned on the women’s lacrosse team three days later, when the Elis received a dose of Princeton payback.
At Class of 1952 Stadium in New Jersey, the No. 1 Tigers (11-0, 3-0 Ivy) may not have dominated the game, but they dominated the scoreboard. Princeton defeated the No. 14 Bulldogs 13-4 for its school record-tying 20th consecutive victory, dating back to last year’s 7-6 loss to the Elis (7-4, 2-2). The nine goal margin of defeat was Yale’s largest of the year. With the loss, the Elis most likely lost their shot at the Ivy League crown.
The Bulldogs rode the confidence of three consecutive victories and last season’s 7-6 upset of the defending national champion Tigers, but Princeton’s play suggested it had not forgotten last April’s game either.
“They’re an excellent team and did a great job,” Ivy League goal scoring leader Miles Whitman ’04 said. “We just didn’t give them the kind of game they were capable of.”
Despite falling behind 2-1 early, Princeton stormed back with four consecutive goals to take control of the game. However, despite the 13-4 final score, the Tigers did not rout Yale in all facets of the game.
“The game was pretty equal,” captain Jen Kessel ’04 said. “They just happened to put more balls in the net. They just finished [and] capitalized on all their shots.”
Princeton only outshot Yale 31-30, picked up one more ground ball and made one less turnover. One statistic that was lopsided was face-off controls, with Princeton winning 12 of the game’s 19 draws.
Midfielder Lindsay Levin ’07 said draws have been an issue all season.
The disparity in face-off wins was a major factor in the game.
“It’s very key for possession and it’s very key for momentum,” Kessel said. “You’re always starting on the defens[ive] and you’re always starting down. It’s always hard to not be going at them right away.”
But the biggest difference in the game was Princeton’s ability to capitalize on its opportunities. The Tigers scored on nine of their 22 shots on goal, while the Bulldogs only rippled the twine on four of their 19 shots on goal.
“They obviously play excellent defense, [but] we didn’t really put it together on the attacking end,” Whitman said.
Princeton midfielder Lindsey Biles led the charge, netting four goals and two assists. She now has 36 scores on the year, second only to Whitman, who has 37.
But to the Bulldogs, Biles’ prominence on the score sheet did not necessarily reflect her play on the field.
“It wasn’t like [Biles] was a standout ball controller on the field,” Kessel said. “She put herself on the line and made it count. She wasn’t a big threat every time they had the ball.”
Yale’s ability to finish its chances was missing in action, as the Princeton defense held the Bulldogs to just two goals in the game’s final 56 minutes. Tiger goalkeeper Sarah Kolodner did her part to frustrate the Elis, stopping 13 shots, one shy of her career-high.
Entering the game, Kolodner had the league’s lowest goals against average, with 6.97.
Midfielders Whitman, Sophie Melniker ’04 and Sarah Driscoll ’05 delivered the little scoring punch the Bulldogs had. Whitman had two goals, while Melniker and Driscoll chipped in with one each.
Melniker and Whitman combined for 20 of Yale’s 30 shots, but could not match their season averages of 2.8 and 3.5 goals per game, respectively, entering the match.
Whitman’s bruised nose, suffered against Rutgers last Wednesday, did not affect her play, she said.
Between the pipes for Yale, Lonnie Sarnell ’06 gave up 13 goals and made nine saves.
After the disappointing loss, the Bulldogs sit in fourth place in the conference, but two of their three remaining conference games are against teams currently winless in the Ancient Eight — Cornell (1-8, 0-3) and Columbia (6-5, 0-4).
The Elis return to Johnson Field for a four game homestand that begins Wednesday with a game against the Lions. The Bulldogs will try to continue defending their home turf, where they are 6-1 this year.
“We’re pretty optimistic for the rest of the season,” Levin said. “We want to prove to the coaches and everyone that it even though it looked like Princeton dominated us, we’re still a strong team.”
Barring any major upsets in the Ivy League, any chance at a bid to the NCAA Tournament rests on victories in Yale’s remaining five games.
“You never know when it comes to the Ivy League, but we still have the NCAAs to look forward to, but we have to win all of our games to have a shot at it,” Kessel said.
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