The Yale women’s lacrosse team embarks on the final leg of its season this weekend with two consecutive home games, beginning Saturday with its game against conference foe No. 14 Penn.
The Bulldogs (5–8, 2–3 Ivy) will look to dampen the flames of the Quakers’ (10–3, 4–1) hot streak, which has included four straight wins, highlighted by two victories over top-11 teams. Penn’s recent trajectory stands in stark contrast to the Elis’, who are looking to find their own spark as the year winds down, after they lost their past four games.
“We have been working really hard all week to fix mistakes from prior games and to get ready for Penn,” captain and defender Kate Walker ’16 said. “I feel that we’re fully prepared to out-hustle and out-fight [Penn] on Saturday.”
In order to emerge victorious, Yale will have to limit the crafty playmaking ability of Penn senior attacker Nina Corcoran, who leads the nation in assists and ranks 16th in total points.
Penn also has a formidable force in net, in the form of junior Britt Brown. She currently holds the 13th-best save percentage in the nation, saving just over half the shots sent her way, at 50.3 percent.
But the team’s greatest strength lies in its depth. Penn has five players with 20 or more points this season. By contrast, Yale has only two, attackers Tess McEvoy ’17 and Hope Hanley ’17. Penn’s depth has translated into an offense that is tied for second in the conference in goals in Ivy play, a category in which the Bulldogs rank seventh. The Quakers defense is more middle-of-the-road, sitting in fourth, though they are still allowing 1.76 goals less than the Elis.
Perhaps more indicative of what to expect from Penn than its stats, though, is its play as of late. The Quakers have won four in a row, and bookending that streak are wins against a couple of the nation’s premier programs. On April 3, Penn took down No. 8 Northwestern, and this past Wednesday, it bested Ivy rival Princeton, ranked 11th in the country.
Moreover, Yale has not beaten its fellow Ancient Eight foe in over a decade, with the most recent victory versus the Quakers coming in 2004. But according to Yale goalie Sydney Marks ’18, the recent history of the rivalry is not a concern.
“I don’t think it [impacts the game] at all,” Marks said. “I didn’t even know that [streak] and it still doesn’t really faze me. I can assure you that we plan on ending this season with a bang if we can, especially since everyone on the team has been working their butts off this past week. We just want to move forward in any way we can.”
Returning home may help the Elis pull off the upset. Although Yale dropped its two most recent contests at Reese Stadium, the Bulldogs still boast a 4–2 record in New Haven.
Beyond a chance to pull off an impressive win over the ranked Quakers, Yale has an opportunity to close out the debut season of head coach Erica LaGrow, and her coaching staff, on a high note.
“It’s been really great having her and [assistant coaches] Sloane [Serpe] and Alyssa [Murray] this year,” defender Victoria Moore ’17 said. “They’re all so talented and knowledgeable about the game; it’s amazing to get to learn from them and have them practice with us so we can see some concepts they are teaching.”
Saturday’s contest is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.