In one week, the Yale women’s lacrosse team has traveled to three different schools, including a trip to Columbia on Saturday afternoon for their final contest of the stretch. But the Bulldogs returned from the week on the road with a mixed record. After losing to Denver and defeating Brown, the Bulldogs lost to the Lions 5–3.
The match against Columbia opened as a defensive battle. The Elis (4–5, 1–2 Ivy) were down by two goals as they entered the second half 3–1 against Columbia (2–5, 1–2 Ivy). Though a goal by midfielder Cathryn Avallone ’15 in the first minute of the second half motivated the Bulldogs to tie the game against the Lions, the Elis’ offensive presence was hindered as one goal was called back, leaving the Bulldogs with only three goals to Columbia’s five when the final buzzer sounded.
Driving into New York, the Bulldogs had come off of one win and one loss in the previous couple of days. However, Yale did not let extensive travel — from New Haven, to Providence, to Denver and then to New York — hinder their performance on the field.
“I do not think traveling has any impact on our game,” midfielder Maggie Pizzo ’18 said. “There was plenty of time between each game to catch up on rest.”
Last Tuesday, the Elis lost to Denver, a top-30 team, 9–6, despite putting up a strong defensive effort. That game against the Pioneers was only the second time that Denver was kept to fewer than 10 goals this season.
“Andrea Cofrin is our new defensive coach, and has done a great job this season,” goalie Erin Mullins ’15 said. “We just continue to fine-tune things and focus on playing what we call a ‘helping defense.’”
The heavy Yale defense was apparent against the Lions. Yale had 15 forced turnovers to Columbia’s 12. Midfielder Christina Doherty ’15 and defender Victoria Moore ’17 are tied for second place in the league for forced turnovers per game. Yale’s high-pressure defense, along with the Elis’ 19 recovered ground balls, forced Columbia to fight through Yale’s midfield.
Another factor of Yale’s defense involves veteran goaltender Mullins. The Lions shot 15 times on goal against the Bulldogs, but Mullins powered through, saving 10 of those shot attempts.
“My save percentage is directly correlated with how my teammates play,” said Mullins. “When I play, I just let myself trust those surrounding me. The defense does a great job of forcing the opponent to take shots that I can save.”
With a strong defensive wall against the Lions, the Bulldogs tried to transition and convert that strength into offensive opportunities. The Elis threatened the Lion’s goalkeeper with four shots by attacker and captain Kerri Fleishhacker ’15 and three shots by attacker Erin Magnuson ’15. All but one of their combined attempts were on goal, yet none could find the back of the net.
Early in the second half, attacker Hope Hanley ’17 took a shot against Columbia’s starting goalie, Kelsey Gedin. The ball soared past Gedin and hit the net with 21:04 left on the clock. Right after Hanley’s goal, the Lions called the referees for a stick check. Hanley’s goal was called back as her stick was deemed illegal.
“We were starting to get some offensive momentum,” midfielder Kelly Anne Sherlock ’16 said. “That call made it more difficult to close the gap. It also lost us ball possession, allowing for Columbia to begin slowing the ball down and stalling on their offensive end of the field.”
According to Sherlock, moments after that call, Columbia regained possession and transitioned back against Mullins to get their fourth goal of the game. After that, the Elis found it challenging to get back on the board against the Lions.
The squad went 0–6 on free-position shots. Columbia came down on Mullins 23 times, while the Bulldogs countered with just 16 of their own shots.
With 3:50 minutes left on the clock, head coach Anne Phillips called a timeout for the Elis. At that point, the score was 5–2 with the Bulldogs trailing. The timeout proved successful as immediately after, at 3:40, shot attempts in the final minutes of the half, but it was not enough.
“We put ourselves in a position to score, but did not complete,” Pizzo said.
Despite this loss, the Bulldogs still have a chance at the Ivy League tournament. Cornell, Penn and Princeton currently share the number one spot in the league. Harvard is listed as fourth, with Yale behind them, tied for fifth with Columbia.
The season is still young — the most games an in-conference team has played thus far is three. With four more Ivy contests left, the Bulldogs look to boost their ranking.
“We have a great group of girls that have complete trust in each other,” Mullins said. “And that’s the most important thing.”
The Bulldogs will play against Boston University in a home game at Reese Stadium on Wednesday at 4 p.m.