Despite elimination from Ivy League tournament contention, the Yale women’s lacrosse team will close the season with something to prove. In a season marred by frustrating losses to nationally ranked competition, the Bulldogs can still salvage nine wins for just the second time since 2009 and produce their best conference mark in the last three years.
To accomplish these feats, the Bulldogs (7–7, 1–4 Ivy) first need to take care of business against the lowly Dartmouth (5–8, 0–5) at Reese Stadium on Saturday in the Elis’ Senior Day game. Although Yale is just 2–6 against Dartmouth in the last eight years, the matchup with the conference’s worst team presents a prime opportunity for the Elis to notch a victory before the squad turns its attention towards No. 10 Penn (11–2, 4–1) in the season finale on April 30.
“Our team is really excited for the game against Dartmouth, and [we] have been preparing all week to come out of the gates flying on Saturday,” defender Anna Thorndike ’20 said. “Because it’s our senior day, everyone is looking forward to playing with and for our seniors and coming out with a win.”
The Elis will look this weekend to end their three-game losing streak in Ivy League play, which includes a pair of defeats against No. 11 Cornell and No. 7 Princeton, as well as a one-goal loss to Columbia. Yale’s lone conference victory — a 12–10 win on March 18 — came against Brown, which is tied for last in the Ivy League with the Big Green.
Dartmouth comes into the contest having lost seven of its last eight matches after a scorching 4–0 start to the season. Since that successful stretch, the Big Green’s only victory has come against Siena, a team that has won just one game in the 2017 season.
“Going in to Dartmouth, I think our mentality to really focus on ourselves,” attacker Maggie Pizzo ’18 said. “Our assistant coach Colleen Smith stresses the importance of being cool, calm and collected. So I think, if we stay focused and play our game regardless of the Ivy competition, we will come out with a win.”
After being held to fewer than 10 goals for the second time this season by the Tigers, the Bulldogs’ offense has a golden chance to come alive on Saturday. Big Green goalie Kiera Vrindten lays claim to the second-worst save percentage in the Ancient Eight, and her 13.44 goals against average ranks last in the conference.
Possession will be crucial for Yale against a Dartmouth team that is eighth in the Ivy League both in caused turnovers per game and in turnovers per game. In their five conference games thus far, the Bulldogs have committed more turnovers than the opposition, and the matchup on Saturday represents an opportunity to dominate the turnover battle and force extra possessions.
“The team is going into the weekend with the competition mentality,” midfielder Emily Granger ’18 said. “We have been competing hard in practice this week and plan to focus on winning the 50-50 effort plays this weekend.”
Offensively, the Big Green is led by attacker Courtney Weisse, who already has 34 goals on the season. Overall, Dartmouth’s lineup features nine players in double digits for points, including midfielder Elizabeth Mastrio, who scored three goals against the Elis in Hanover last season and leads her team with a 0.746 shots-on-goal percentage.
Two seniors stand out in the Bulldog lineup, complementing the pregame ceremony that will honor members of the class of 2017 in their final home game of the year.
Captain and attacker Tess McEvoy ’17 has registered 39 goals in her senior season, more than 10 more than the next-highest scorer on the roster. Attacker Hope Hanley ’17, meanwhile, leads the team with 72 points and will continue to improve her all-time record in single-season assists after notching her 44th helper against Princeton last weekend.
Four Yale defenders will also be playing their final home game in Reese Stadium: Marisa Cresham ’17, Emily Markham ’17, Victoria Moore ’17 and Ashley Perselay ’17. The four players have each appeared in all 14 games this season and anchor a Bulldog defensive unit conceding 10.85 goals per game in conference play.
“Our team is approaching Saturday’s game with great focus,” Hanley said. “Our coaches have given us the tools we need to succeed against Dartmouth, and, if we stick to our game plan and play a full 60 minutes of Yale lacrosse, I am confident that we can be victorious.”
The six Yale seniors will be taking to the field at Reese Stadium for the last time on Saturday. The game starts at 1 p.m.