The No. 18 women’s lacrosse team, still sizzling on the heels of back-to-back road thrashings of Fairfield and Harvard, clashed yesterday with New Hampshire, which was winless against the Bulldogs in its last nine tries. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

After traveling 200 miles to Durham to play the mid-afternoon makeup game of a twice-snowed-out non-conference battle, the Bulldogs (5-4, 1-2 Ivy) would need a second-half comeback and an offensive explosion by standout attackman Lauren Taylor ’08 to secure a 10-8 win, the team’s third straight triumph.

The Bulldogs showed the mettle to overcome some breakdowns in play and escape the Granite State unscathed despite the razor-thin margin of victory.

“We wish it wouldn’t have been so close,” captain Kerry Docherty ’05 said. “We were definitely the better team. It was a little too close for comfort, but not bad for getting off a three-and-a-half-hour bus ride and having to play. We had a couple lapses, but we are a good enough team that we can come back from that.”

The lapses started early. Eighty-six seconds into the game New Hampshire’s Kristin Blanchette started the scoring with her 12th goal of the year. Midfielder Sarah Driscoll ’05 countered a minute later, but New Hampshire (4-5) would regain the lead shortly afterwards when Blanchette found Katie Leland for the first of five goals.

The Bulldogs recovered to dominate most of play in the remainder of the first half, outscoring New Hampshire 4-1 the rest of the way on goals by Taylor, midfielder Alessandra Croffy ’05 and attackman Marya Myers ’07, who had two.

The Wildcats clawed their way back in the second half, recapturing the lead with a flurry of goals. The four-goal explosion gave New Hampshire a 7-5 lead with less than 15 minutes left to play. It was then that Taylor took over. Scoring three goals in a span of 3:58, Taylor put the Elis on top for good.

The 5-foot-10 rookie, who has been on a tear of late, was recently named Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week after scoring three goals against the Stags and four against the Cantabs. Although still very early in her collegiate career, she has certainly made her presence known, starting all eight games this season and leading the team in goals.

Docherty was impressed — though not surprised — by Taylor’s performance yesterday.

“She’s just an incredibly talented player,” Docherty said. “She has a ridiculous shot, one of the fastest in the league right now. She’s only a freshman, but she sees things very well and definitely plays a large part in our success.”

Midfielder Lara Melniker ’07 had similar praise for Taylor, who has developed a knack for scoring the big goal.

“Lauren Taylor had almost every one of our goals,” Melniker said. “She scored exactly when we needed her to.”

After Taylor’s trio of goals, Driscoll added her second tally of the game, and midfielder Katie Sargent ’05 scored to cushion Yale’s lead.

Ahead 10-7 with just less than five minutes remaining, Yale eluded a frenzied New Hampshire pressure with deft work on its stall. In the offensive zone, the Bulldogs faced frequent double-teams. With great vision and precision passing, Yale avoided turnovers, surrendering only a meaningless goal to Leland with two minutes to play.

“Our stall at the end was really important because it was so close and they had been able to score really quickly on the fast break,” Melniker said of the strategy, which she likened to a game of “monkey in the middle”.

Goalie Ellen Cameron ’08 notched the win for Yale, making five saves in the 60 minutes of play. Her counterpart, New Hampshire goalie Staci Platey, also went the distance in net and collected 10 saves.

Now Yale sets its sights on perennial power Princeton, which it hosts Saturday at Johnson Field.

Nevertheless, for the Elis, being able to handle a Wildcat squad on the road despite some spotty play was an accomplishment in and of itself.

“The New Hampshire game was a huge win for us, probably one of the biggest of the season,” Croffy said. “It was important to win before Saturday because Princeton’s going to be a huge game.”

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