At halftime of its game against No. 19 Stanford on Saturday, the Yale women’s lacrosse team went into the locker room ahead of its opponent by two goals.
The Bulldogs had been in this situation — holding a mid-game lead against a nationally ranked opponent — three times this season, all resulting in eventual defeats. But after victory over Sacred Heart earlier in the day, the Elis reversed their fortunes, mustering up a resilient second-half effort to best the Cardinal and achieve one of the program’s most impressive wins in recent memory.
In its first doubleheader series since 2004, Yale (7–5, 1–2 Ivy) earned a crucial pair of victories against nonconference foes Sacred Heart (2–7, 0–0 Northeast) and Stanford (7–3, 1–0 Mountain Pacific) at Reese Stadium. Clutch performances on draw controls and free position shots helped the Bulldogs find their offensive rhythm and avoid lengthy scoring runs by the opposition that plagued the squad in prior contests.
“In past games we had moments of grit and heart, but were unable to sustain that for a full 60 minutes,” midfielder Emily Granger ’18 said. “On Saturday, we went in with the mentality that no matter the outcome, we would fight until the end. [We] proved to ourselves that we are just as good as the top teams in the nation.”
The Elis dominated the opening 15 minutes of play in their matinee against the Pioneers, scoring the game’s first eight goals on a combined six assists. Attacker Hope Hanley ’17 and midfielder Madeleine Gramigna ’18 each found the net twice during that span, with Hanley also providing two helpers. Although the visitors responded with four strikes later in the half, the Bulldogs added four of their own to go into the intermission leading 12–4.
An 11–5 advantage in the draw circle stimulated the Bulldogs offense, which had 10 different players score in the first half. Five of Yale’s goals came from free-position shots, an area in which the home squad thrived all afternoon; Yale shot 7–14 on free-position shots while Sacred Heart went 0–3 for the entire game.
With the Bulldogs leading by eight at the break, head coach Erica LaGrow elected to switch goalies at the start of the second half, substituting Allie Carrigan ’19 in for fellow netminder Sydney Marks ’18. The Lansdale, Pennsylvania native locked down the Pioneer offense, saving five of the opposition’s six shots to preserve Yale’s comfortable lead.
On the other end of the field, the Elis tallied another five goals, including two by midfielder Hannah Logan ’20 to secure a 17–5 victory over Sacred Heart.
“A lot of players have been stepping up and making huge contributions, which is important for us facing four difficult Ivy games in the remainder of the season,” midfielder Amanda Bosland ’19 said. “This weekend showed that all of the pieces are coming together at exactly the right time as we move into the bulk of our Ivy season.”
Fresh off the victory against the Pioneers, the Bulldogs were forced to regroup and to face much tougher competition in a Cardinal team that had won six games straight prior to the matchup. The Elis got off to a scorching start, scoring the first three goals of the game and surging to a 5–1 lead 11 minutes into the game.
But Stanford’s offense, which ranks sixth in Division I, responded, scoring four unanswered goals on Marks and the Yale defense. The teams traded goals before Yale pushed ahead to close out the first half; goals from Granger and Hanley and a clutch save by Marks on a Stanford free-position shot at 14:50 sent the Bulldogs to the locker room up 8–6.
The second half started in similar fashion to the opening 30 minutes — though Yale found the back of the net first, Stanford responded with three unanswered goals to tie the game at nine apiece. But after trading goals, the Bulldogs ignited a three-goal streak which proved the difference in the 15–12 final. Yale’s win represented the first program win over a ranked team since 2010, when the Bulldogs knocked off then-No.13 Boston University.
“One of our team goals was to play a full 60 minutes of Yale lacrosse,” Hanley said. “We emphasized this goal at halftime, and throughout the second half, both our offensive and defensive units played with the same intensity as they did in the first half.”
The Bulldogs’ upset was highlighted by several standout individual performances. Marks’ final tally of 15 saves included several crucial stops on free-position opportunities to keep Stanford chasing a lead for the entire game. Captain and attacker Tess McEvoy ’17 scored three times in the contest, becoming just the 14th player in Yale history to record 100 career goals.
Hanley, who assisted on McEvoy’s last goal, continued her explosive senior season with an 11-point performance against the Cardinal. The attacker put an exclamation point on the Bulldog victory with 49 seconds left and completed her highest-output game this season after totaling 10 points against Quinnipiac on Feb. 21.
“The doubleheader sweep definitely provided our team with confidence,” Hanley said. “Our next games are Ivy games, and this confidence will help us prepare.”
Yale travels to the Upper East Side to face Columbia on Saturday for its next game.