The Yale women’s lacrosse team had this past weekend off from Ivy League play, but it used two non-league games against California and Lehigh to gain key momentum heading into the latter part of its conference season.
Playing in rainy weather at Reese Stadium in both contests, the Bulldogs (7–3, 1–2 Ivy) netted 17 of 26 shots to top UC Berkeley 17–6 on Friday and then held out to beat Lehigh 8–7 yesterday.
“Winning the two games this weekend [was] really great for us,” captain and defender Adrienne Tarver ’14 said in an email. “It was important for us to win them both so that we could get back on track before we face Princeton next weekend.”
Goalie Erin Mullins ’15 agreed, noting that the weekend’s games ended a three-game losing streak for the team and righted the ship before the team faces Princeton.
Attacker Nicole Daniggelis ’16 fueled both Eli victories with a combined 10 goals against Cal (2–6, 1–1 MPSF) and Lehigh (5–6, 2–2 Patriot), including six of Yale’s eight goals against Lehigh. With 29 goals so far this season, she currently sits at the top of the Ivy League goals leaderboard alongside Cornell’s Lindsay Toppe.
Daniggelis was also the major reason that the Bulldogs held a significant advantage in draw controls over the two games. With Daniggelis taking a majority of draw controls for Yale, the Bulldogs won 16 of 25 against Cal and 11 of 17 against Lehigh.
“It is extremely difficult to defend a player of Nicole’s caliber, and I think she continued to frustrate Lehigh on both the offensive end and the draws,” said starting goalie Erin McMullan ’14. “Lehigh was forced to hold the ball on offense because they were unable to win the draw. Nicole consistently forces teams to change their game plans.”
Defensively, the Elis allowed Cal and Lehigh just 14 and 12 shots on goal, respectively.
McMullan saved 13 of those, increasing her season save percentage to 46.8 and her save total to 66. Both figures are third in the Ivy League.
“Our defenders have done a great job of keeping us in tight games,” McMullan said. “By causing turnovers on the defensive end, they give our attackers more opportunities to score.”
Friday against Cal, Daniggelis took an early lead for Yale with a goal three minutes into the first half. The Golden Bears scored twice seven minutes later to grab the advantage, but the Bulldogs soon took back the lead and never let it go.
Daniggelis scored two goals consecutively, making the score 3–2, and midfielder Christina Doherty ’15 and attack Jen DeVito ’14 followed up with a goal apiece to extend the lead.
Cal kept the game close for most of the contest, and back-and-forth scoring led to a 9–6 score midway through the second half.
At that point, though, the Bulldogs appeared to decide that three goals was not a satisfactory margin of victory. Nor was four, or five, or 10. Yale finished the contest with eight consecutive goals — more than the Golden Bears scored in the entire game — to take a 17–6 victory.
“We were especially effective offensively against Cal due to our ability to capitalize on fast break opportunities,” McMullan said. “Both our attackers and our midfielders contributed goals and assists, and this forced Cal to worry about all seven offensive players on the field rather than concentrating their efforts on one or two players.”
Daniggelis and DeVito contributed four goals each in the win, often assisting each other as the leaders of Yale’s attack. DeVito netted all four shots that she fired towards Cal goalie Helen Hansen.
While Cal committed five yellow card penalties in the game, leading to two man-up goals for Yale, the Bulldogs did not commit one until there were 12 seconds left in the contest.
The Golden Bears returned to warm Berkeley, Cali. following the game, but the Bulldogs reported back to Reese Stadium on Sunday to play Lehigh in the same rainy weather they had seen two days before.
Daniggelis opened up scoring again with a goal one minute into the game. She then proceeded to score four more consecutive goals for Yale, with one Lehigh goal between them. With eight minutes remaining in the first half, Yale boasted a 5–1 lead with all scoring thanks to Daniggelis.
Unlike Cal, however, Lehigh had the ability to recover from the deficit. The Eli lead was quickly shrunk from four to one as the Mountain Hawks scored three goals in five minutes. DeVito and Doherty were able to tack on insurance in the final minutes of the first half, and the teams headed to the locker room with Yale up 7–4.
The Bulldogs only managed to score a single goal in the second half on a free position shot by Daniggelis. But they held the Mountain Hawks to three in the half, just enough to preserve a one-goal lead.
Yale gained possession on a save by McMullan with five minutes left in regulation and passed the ball around for almost the entire time to prevent Lehigh from having a chance to score.
The clock ran out as Doherty fired a shot off the post, the only shot in the last five minutes, and Yale finished with the 8–7 victory.
“Against Cal, our attack worked well as a unit and executed our plays extremely well,” Mullins said. “Against Lehigh, we succeed in limiting our turnovers, which was a major focus for the weekend.”
The Bulldogs return to conference play on Saturday when they play at Princeton.