As the Yale women’s lacrosse team enters its last game of the season, Harvard is the last team standing between the Bulldogs and a possible spot in the 2015 Ivy League Tournament.
Yale (7–7, 2–4 Ivy) and Harvard (7–7, 3–3 Ivy) enter the regular season’s final weekend with Harvard in the fourth and final playoff spot and the Elis one game back. Princeton, Penn and Cornell already have guaranteed spots in the tournament by virtue of finishing in the top three Ivy League spots. A Yale win over the Crimson would bring the Bulldogs into a tie for fourth with Harvard and potentially Dartmouth, but by virtue of their head-to-head victories over both squads, Yale would clinch the final tournament berth.
Though the Bulldogs lost to then-No. 11 Penn last Saturday in a 13–7 game, players hope to focus on the positives from the defeat — which came from a talented squad with only one loss this season — and move forward.
“After every game we play, we try to put together a list of some of the key takeaways from that particular game in order to recognize the things we need to either work on or continue doing well during the next week of practice,” attacker and captain Kerri Fleishhacker ’15 said. “We’ve been able to adjust our play and start fresh after each game, whether we’ve won or lost.”
One of the biggest disparities between Yale and Harvard is the offense. The Crimson ranks third in the conference with 151 goals this season, while the Bulldogs are only above Dartmouth with 120 goals. But Yale’s midfield game is tied for second in the league in ground ball pickups per game, compared to Harvard’s sixth-place rank.
The Harvard players that may prove a challenge to the Elis’ defensive unit are sophomore Marisa Romeo and junior Audrey Todd, who rank fourth and eighth, respectively, for number of goals per game in the league.
“We need to play at full force and bring out our strongest abilities,” attacker Nicole Daniggelis ’16 said. “The challenge for this weekend will be sticking to the game plan in an effort to play a full 60 minutes of Yale lacrosse. We will set the pace and the tone of this upcoming game.”
Perhaps Yale’s greatest strength is its defense. Three Yale players — midfielder Christina Doherty ’15 and defenders Victoria Moore ’17 and Kate Walker ’16, a staff reporter for YTV — rank in the top five in the conference in forced turnovers per game. Doherty also ranks second among all Ancient Eight players in ground ball pickups per game.
Additionally, goalkeeper Erin Mullins ’15 boasts a save percentage of 48.5 percent, good for second in the conference among goalkeepers with at least 15 saves.
One thing to watch for in Saturday’s contest is both teams’ propensity to commit fouls. Harvard and Yale are each tied with 25.5 fouls per game, the most in the Ivy League.
Despite the potential chippiness of the matchup, however, the Bulldogs said they are ready to play for a chance at the Ivy playoffs.
“We are really excited for the chance to play this weekend and make the tournament,” attacker Kiwi Comizio ’18 said. “We have been working really hard this week to improve any weak areas and prepare for the game.”
Saturday’s game starts at 1 p.m. in at Soldiers Field Boston. The Cantabs have won each of the previous four matchups against Yale.