Three attempted comebacks and a valiant defensive effort could not help the women’s lacrosse team overcome the curse of the Class of ’52 Stadium Saturday.
The No. 13 Bulldogs (8-4, 2-2 Ivy) dropped a 9-6 heartbreaker to No. 2 Princeton (9-0, 3-0) this weekend, falling prey to the undefeated Tigers for the 10th-straight time in New Jersey. Despite an early lead and goals from four different players, the Elis could not stop the home team from pulling away at the start of the second half and handing them their second defeat in the Ancient Eight this season.
“It was a hard loss,” attacker Jenna Block ’10 said. “Both teams fought hard, and unfortunately Princeton came out on top — they played well and capitalized on some of the errors we made.”
In the opening period, the Bulldogs struck first, taking advantage of a few costly Princeton turnovers to take an early 2-0 lead. Midfielder Lauren Taylor ’08 dodged two Tiger defenders to score an unassisted goal with 26:26 left in the first half and then set up Taylor Fragapane ’09 five minutes later to give the Elis a two-goal edge.
But the Tigers fought back, putting away three unanswered goals to close out the half leading 3-2. Princeton’s leading scorers, Christina Casaceli and Katie Lewis-Lamonica, were responsible for the bulk of the home team’s scoring in the first period.
The Tigers continued their run after the break, notching two more goals before the Bulldogs managed to respond. Taylor broke up the string of Princeton scores with an unassisted goal at 21:26, putting the visitors within two and ending a 30-minute dry spell for Yale.
But that was the closest the Elis would get. The Tigers rattled off another three goals in the wake of Taylor’s score, sitting on an 8-3 lead with 12 minutes left to play in the game.
The Bulldogs started a final surge as the minutes wound down, picking up goals from Taylor and Jenn Warden ’09 off of Princeton turnovers. However, the Tigers broke their momentum with a goal by Kristin Morrison at the two-minute mark. A goal by Linden Ellis ’09 with 18 seconds left made the score 9-6, but it was too late for the Elis to make another run. After losing the subsequent draw control, the Tigers picked up a ground ball and held on to it until time expired.
“[The team] never gave up and played with all the intensity and effort we have been looking for all season,” head coach Laura Field said. “Unfortunately we had too many unforced errors in the game to be able to come away with a victory, but we saw flashes of great performances on both sides of the ball, and hopefully that will carry us forward.”
With the loss, the Bulldogs are all but eliminated from the race for the Ivy League championship, although they still retain hopes of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament in May. Heading into the weekend, attacker Meredith Callahan ’08 said the Princeton game would be a huge factor in determining Yale’s final standing in the conference and its post-season chances. Since the Elis had already dropped a game to No. 8 Penn — the only other squad that remains undefeated in the Ancient Eight — Saturday’s loss means that the Bulldogs’ best scenario is now a second-place conference finish.
If the Elis manage to win the remainder of their conference slate and get a little help from other teams in the region, however, they could still garner one of eight at-large berths to the tournament. Yale was one of three Ivy League teams to earn a spot last year, after a second-place finish.
The quest for one of those bids begins Wednesday, when the Bulldogs host Columbia at Johnson Field.
“Typically, Columbia isn’t one of the stronger Ivy teams, but we need to come out ready to play,” Block said. “All we can do for the rest of the season is work with what’s in our control, and that starts with beating Columbia on Wednesday.”