In five of seven seasons under former head coach Anne Phillips, the Yale women’s lacrosse failed to win three or more conference games in its seven-game conference schedule. The Bulldogs can reach the three-win mark on Saturday in the final game of head coach Erica LaGrow’s debut season at the helm of the Elis.
Though a narrow loss to No. 14 Penn last weekend secured Yale’s eighth consecutive sub-0.500 regular season conference record, the Elis (5–9, 2–4 Ivy) enter their final game, a home contest against Harvard (8–6, 3–3), still in contention for their first Ivy League Tournament berth since 2008.
“[Making the postseason] would be amazing. This is what we work toward all year,” defender Victoria Moore ’17 said. “It would also be so great for all of the seniors; they’ve put in four years of hard work and the team wants for them to have this — they deserve it.”
Saturday’s season finale in New Haven is a must-win game for both the Bulldogs and the Crimson, with the two teams jostling with Dartmouth (6–8, 2–4) for the final spot in the four-team playoff tournament. Yale will need both a win this weekend and a Columbia victory over the Big Green in Hanover to clinch a spot in the postseason.
Currently ranked seventh in the Ancient Eight in conference scoring, the Bulldogs will face a tough matchup in the form of Harvard’s stingy defense. Through six league games, the Crimson boasts a goals-against average of just 7.00, second only to the 5.17 mark of first-place Cornell. Four of Harvard’s starters, midfielders Megan Hennessey and Nekele McCall and defenders Marina Burke and Emma Ford, rank in the top 10 in the Ivy League in caused turnovers, combining for 27 takeaways this season.
“Regarding Harvard’s defense, I think we have really just been focusing on our offense,” attacker Tess McEvoy ’17 said. “Our coaches have done an excellent job preparing us and providing us a game plan and we are excited to execute it this weekend.”
McEvoy will look to lead the Yale offense against the Crimson in the final game of her best career season. Yale’s highest-scoring attacker, McEvoy currently ranks third in the Ivy League this year with 33 goals scored, eclipsing her combined goal total from her freshman and sophomore seasons. But after leading the team in goals in eight of the first 12 games to start the season, McEvoy has scored just once in Yale’s two most recent games, a pair of losses to Dartmouth and Penn.
On the other side of the ball, Yale goalie Sydney Marks ’18 will finish off a career season of her own in the net. After making appearances in just two games as a freshman last year, Marks has started all 14 of Yale’s contests so far this season. Though the sophomore netminder has compiled 119 saves this year, second only to Princeton’s Ellie DeGarmo, she ranks sixth in the Ancient Eight with both a 10.00 goals-against average and a 45.9-percent save percentage. Now set to face Harvard for the first time in her career, the Chappaqua, N.Y., native is excited to leave her mark on the storied rivalry.
“I’ve watched my friends play [Harvard] whether I was in the stands or on the sideline, but now I’m finally going to play an actual role this time, which feels awesome,” Marks said.
Taking the field on Saturday, Marks will look to contain a Harvard offense led by a trio of fellow New Yorkers, midfielders Julia Glynn and Alexis Nicolia and attacker Marisa Romeo. Glynn and Romeo have combined for 37 points this season, the second most by a pair of Ivy teammates, while Nicolia’s five-goal week against No. 20 Boston College and No. 18 Cornell earned her a spot on the most recent Ivy League weekly honor roll.
The crop of Crimson offensive threats will look to send Harvard to the Ivy postseason for the fifth time in six years.
With its own tournament hopes hanging in the balance, Yale will take the field on Saturday in search of its first victory over Harvard since 2010.
The game at Reese Stadium is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.
Kevin Bendesky contributed reporting.