If the women’s lacrosse team (3-3, 0-1 Ivy) can stretch its trademark last-minute intensity all the way back to the first whistle, the Bulldogs will be quite the force to reckon with this season.
Clawing their way back from early deficits to experience both last-second miracles and heartbreakers was the most resounding theme of a two-week, five-game stretch that included both a home stint and a swing down South. Sandwiched between the nail-biters was a record-breaking pounding of New Hampshire on March 8 highlighted by midfielder Lauren Taylor ’08 shellacking an overmatched Wildcats squad for eight points. The Elis have now broken even in their first six contests, and a trip to Boston University Wednesday afternoon to face the No. 6 Terriers may prove to be their toughest challenge of the young season.
“We let ourselves get into a hole, but we seem to get ourselves right out of it,” defender Jenn Warden ’09 said. “We need to start getting it done from the beginning.”
As classmates cleared out of the Elm City the day after classes ended, the Bulldogs stuck around to welcome No. 17 James Madison (3-2) to Johnson Field. In a game that looked like a lost cause early on, the Dukes poured on four goals in the first 10 minutes of play, but Yale battled back to knot the tally at six.
Heading into the end of the game, the visitors went on a 4-1 run which seemed to all but slam the door on the Bulldogs, but the home squad had a little magic left in the last minute. Midfielder Kat Peetz ’08 unloaded on James Madison goalie Livvy King with 0:44 on the clock, her third goal of the night, shrinking the deficit to two. Warden added her third of the afternoon with 27 ticks to go, bringing the score to 10-9. Unfortunately, the ensuing faceoff went to the Dukes, and Yale would lose a tantalizingly close second game of the season.
The Wildcats of New Hampshire (2-4) were just what the doctor ordered for the 1-1 squad. Taylor kicked off her career day by equaling her season total for goals in the first half, providing five of the eight Yale tallies before the intermission. With another pair of scores in the second to go along with five goals and an assist in the first, the sophomore midfielder ended the day with eight points, the first Eli to do so since All-American Miles Whitman ’04 in April 2004. When the dust cleared, the hometown team stood as 15-8 victors over their Granite State foes.
Vanderbilt star Kendall Thrift hardly exemplified Southern hospitality when her Commodores (4-3) welcomed the Elis to Nashville on March 11. The junior attack terrorized Yale with five goals, the first barely a minute into regulation. Thrift accounted for half of Vanderbilt’s 8-1 lead with 13:10 left in the first half, and with a 21-9 advantage in shots, the Commodores had an insurmountable 9-3 lead at the break.
The Bulldogs clawed their way back to respectability, outscoring their hosts in a second-half effort that included three goals from Taylor and two from Lara Melnicker ’07. But in the end Yale was still dealt its worst loss of the season, a 14-9 slap.
Last Tuesday, the Elis pulled out a resounding comeback in West Palm Beach, Fla., to put down Colgate in a game much grittier than expected. The two squads flip-flopped with leads, as the Bulldogs watched a 7-4 second-half advantage evaporate into a late 9-7 deficit. Down 10-8 with under a minute to play, Melnicker notched goal No. 9 and Taylor not only knotted the score with 18 seconds to go, but had a potentially game-winning shot deflect off the post at the final buzzer.
Peetz kicked off the scoring in extra frames, but Colgate’s Ashley Didio knotted the game back up just seconds later. Attacker Taylor Fragapane ’09 delivered just 16 seconds after Didio’s offering for the 12-11 lead, and a Taylor insurance goal and a whistle later, the Elis were 13-11 victors.
“Colgate exposed a lot of our weaknesses,” Warden said. “We were expecting to beat them pretty handily, and they showed us that we need to work on our midfield transition. But it’s nothing that we can’t fix in practice.”
After spending the rest of last week training in Florida, the squad started its Ivy League season on a frustrating foot when the No. 17 Quakers eked past the Bulldogs, 9-8, at Johnson Field. Staring at a 7-2 deficit early in the second half, Yale would account for six of the next seven tallies in the game, and the miraculous comeback sent the Elis past regulation for the third time this year. But with 7.4 seconds to go in the overtime frame, the Quakers capitalized on an Eli turnover and sent one past Ellen Cameron ’08 in goal to knock down the Bulldogs.
“If anything, the Penn game went a lot better than expected,” Warden said. “We had to deal with some bad luck in overtime, and when they score with seven seconds left to go, there’s not much you can do.”
Yale is back on the road again but will not be trading the friendly confines of Johnson Field for exotic locales this time around. BU’s Nickerson Field may prove the toughest venue thus far for the Bulldogs, as the Terriers have a 14-game home winning streak stretching back to 2004. In the meantime, all the Elis can do is work on ways to come out of the gate just as strong as they round out the game.
“We know it’s usually impossible to claw our way back,” Linden Ellis ’09 said. “So in practice we’re just going harder in warm-ups, getting focused in shuttle lines. We just have to be a little more aggressive from the start.”