Nicole Wells

In the opening contest of the 2016 Ivy League season, the Yale women’s lacrosse team headed to Ithaca, New York, where it was bested by unbeaten Cornell 10–6.

By the time the first half ended, the Bulldogs (2–3, 0–1 Ivy) found themselves facing a five-goal deficit against the deep and potent offense of the Big Red (3–0, 1–0). In the second half the Elis fought to cut the lead down to two, twice, but in the end they were unable to climb all the way back to even.

“Against Cornell we had some great moments like, for instance, a big comeback in the second half,” captain and defender Kate Walker ’16 said. “Obviously it wasn’t enough to get us the win, so our big emphasis as we look toward the rest of our season will be consistency.”

Cornell controlled nearly the entire first half, scoring the game’s first six goals in the opening 27 minutes. The Big Red limited the Bulldogs to five shots — the first coming after over 20 minutes of play had passed — and took 23 of its own.

But before the period came to a close, Yale began to show signs of life, sneaking in a goal with 18 seconds left from the stick of attacker Hope Hanley ’17. But when the Bulldogs entered the halftime break, they were mainly focused on the six Cornell goals, not the lone score of their own, goalie Sydney Marks ’18 said.

“When we gathered in the locker room at the half, we just got pissed off, and I think that put a bit of spark into our play for the second half,” Marks said. “It’s a competitive intensity that we need to tap into more often, and if that means getting a little ‘angry’ sometimes, then so be it. I think that’s a crucial piece to the puzzle.”

In the second 30 minutes, Yale significantly improved its performance, scoring the half’s first three goals — all from twin midfielders Lily Smith ’18 and Katie Smith ’18. Only two goals behind, the Elis had positioned themselves within striking distance of their Ivy League opponent.

Cornell curtailed the Bulldogs’ comeback with its seventh goal, but only briefly. Katie Smith struck again to bring Yale back to within two for the second time.

This time, however, the Yale wave would crash for the final time, as the Big Red countered Smith’s goal with three of its own. Up by five with only seven minutes left to play, Cornell effectively sealed the game with that final surge.

Hanley scored the final goal of the game with 41 seconds left on a free-position shot, but it was too little, too late. The clock wound down until the final whistle, and Cornell emerged victorious 10–6.

In the second half the Bulldogs held the Big Red to just 12 shots — nearly a 50-percent defensive improvement over the opening frame. Yale also built on its offensive statistics, increasing its own shot total from five to seven. The result was outscoring Cornell 5–4 in the period, which both players and head coach Erica LaGrow looked at as a positive takeaway.

“In the second half, I am proud of our players for coming out strong and competing hard,” LaGrow said. “We made a few changes on the defensive end and played with composure on the offensive end. Our goal is to get better each day, and I feel we got better on Saturday.”

In most of the other statistical categories the game was close. Yale was a perfect 13–13 on clear attempts, and Cornell was nearly flawless as well, going 14–15. The Big Red secured just one more ground ball than the Bulldogs, 17–16, and draw controls fell in Yale’s favor by a slim 10–8 margin.

Yale plays on the road again this Tuesday at Stony Brook.