Yesterday might have been April Fools’ Day, but the women’s lacrosse team had no time for jokes.
After a slow start to the season, the Bulldogs finally ended their four-game slump on Wednesday, defeating Holy Cross in an effort to begin turning their season around.
Midfielders Jenn Warden ’09 and captain Taylor Fragapane ’09 combined for nine goals to outscore the entire Crusaders squad in the Bulldogs’ (3-7, 0-2 Ivy) 15-7 victory over Holy Cross (2-9).
While the Elis were worried that their season was headed for the worse — and this game would be insult to injury — they did take comfort in the fact that historically the Bulldogs have been very successful against the Crusaders. The Elis are undefeated against Holy Cross all time, having won all 13 contests dating back to 1993.
Coming into this match, the Crusaders had lost their last six matches by a combined 37 goals. In the six game span, three of Holy Cross’s losses were by a one-goal margin, including their last two matches.
The two teams have the same records against other squads as well. Both Yale and Holy Cross defeated UMass-Amherst, yet fell to Harvard and New Hampshire.
But on Wednesday, the Elis put the past behind them and focused on the task at hand: finish shots on goal. The Bulldogs posted a season high 40 shots on the afternoon, compared to the Crusaders’ 23. Goalie Whitney Quackenbush ’12 had eight saves in the match.
“We knew that our attack could be successful,” said Warden, who had a team-high six goals in the game. “We showed up today, we weren’t scared or frustrated, and we just kept creating scoring opportunities.”
Most of the Bulldogs’ success can be attributed to the fact that they played as a unit. In total, eight Bulldogs found the back of the net in their best display of a complete offense so far this season.
“Our defense and goalkeeping has been great all season. Today we were trying to get the attack to work together as a unit,” head coach Anne Phillips said. “We’ve been making strides and we had our chances, but today we finally executed.”
Earlier in the year, the Bulldogs relied on a one-on-one style of offense in which a player tried to beat her defender and get a shot on goal. But Phillips and players noted that that strategy can be dangerous if players are having an off night; the style does not lend itself to any inconsistency.
As a result, the Elis implemented an offense that stressed off the ball movement, especially cuts towards the goal. Anchoring that offense was attacker Jenna Block ’10. Block had a team-high 8 assists.
“Jenna was very unselfish player today,” Fragapane said. “We have a lot of attackers on this team who can score, but it takes a lot to feed players from behind the net.”
But even a rejuvenated offense cannot prove its valor without the ball, which is where the transition game enters the picture.
The Elis stepped up their play in the midfield, outpacing the Crusaders in every statistical category. The Bulldogs won the battle in draw controls, 13-10; took the edge in ground balls, 12-11; and limited their turnovers to six, compared to the Crusaders’ 11 losses of possession.
This weekend, the Bulldogs will be back to conference play when they host Princeton (8-1, 2-0) at Reese Stadium on Saturday at 1 p.m.