On Saturday, the Yale women’s lacrosse team took the field against Harvard, seeking to win its first game in the rivalry since 2010. Despite trailing the Crimson 7–2 midway through the first half, the Bulldogs’ offense mounted a furious comeback attempt that ultimately fell just short as Harvard held on for a 14–13 victory.
Yale (3–2, 0–1 Ivy League) fielded its most impressive performance against the Crimson (2–1, 1–0) in recent memory. In the past two seasons, the Elis were defeated by scores of 13–4 and 15–4, and despite a similarly lopsided scoreline early on, the Bulldogs battled back to keep the majority of the game competitive and give themselves a chance to come out on top.
“Give credit to Harvard — they are a great team and are very well-coached,” head coach Erica LaGrow told Yale athletics after the game. “They came out strong … after the first 13 minutes we started to play Yale lacrosse, and stuck to our game plan.”
Yale’s first conference matchup of the season was originally slated to be played at Jordan Field in Cambridge but was relocated to the Harvard Stadium Bubble, a large indoor practice facility, due to cold temperatures. On this frigid day in eastern Massachusetts, the Crimson’s offense came out hot, scoring seven of the game’s first nine goals.
Harvard attacker Marisa Romeo opened the scoring less than two minutes into the game to start a 14-minute scoring run. The home team connected on its first seven shots on Eli goaltender Allie Carrigan ’19, playing in her first start in a Yale sweater and just her third game at the collegiate level. Tallies by attacker Izzy Nixon ’19 and midfielder Amanda Bosland ’19 got the Bulldogs on the board and kept the score to within five with 16:50 remaining in the first half.
But from there on out, the Bulldogs’ offense erupted, sparked by an eight-and-a-half-minute stretch in which Yale fired a bevy of shots past Crimson goalie Meredith Brown, including three free-position goals, to level the game at 7–7. In the final five minutes of the first half, both teams tallied a pair of goals, including second strikes for attackers Kiwi Comizio ’18 and Hope Hanley ’17 to send the two squads into halftime tied up at 9–9.
“After trailing Harvard 7–2 early in the first half, both our offensive and defensive units stepped it up,” Hanley said. “Our team connected well on both ends of the field. [The] comeback attempt was truly a team effort.”
The second half of the game saw Harvard making a goaltending change, switching Olivia Gundrum for Brown. The Crimson defense was also much more effective at stifling the Bulldogs’ attempts on goal. After the Elis outshot Harvard 17–16 in the first they were limited to just eight shots on goal in the second frame while Carrigan faced 18.
The Crimson once again scored the first goal of the period, but the Bulldogs responded with a couple of their own, with Bosland scoring her second of the game and midfielder Madeleine Gramigna ’18 finding the back of the net to give Yale a 11–10 advantage. Harvard scored three successive goals, and though the Elis responded to come within one, the Crimson netted its 14th tally, the eventual game-winner, with 5:47 to play and the Bulldogs came up just short in the closing minutes. Hanley scored her fourth goal of the game with just under five minutes remaining, but the Elis would come no closer.
Despite the loss, the performance was nevertheless encouraging, especially considering that four of the Yale players who started the first three games were sidelined by injury. As the game wore on, more injury trouble meant that the Bulldogs ended the game having just two players available to sub in from the bench.
“Everyone is playing a vital role,” LaGrow said. “While the final score was not what we wanted, we competed hard and made some positive strides.”
With 12 saves, Carrigan had twice the combined saves of her two Harvard counterparts in a solid debut in goal. The Eli offense also kept rolling, and has now scored at least 11 goals in each of its matchups, averaging 15.8 goals per game in the first five contests of the season, compared to the 7.6 average last year.
The Bulldogs face Stony Brook at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Reese Stadium.