Yale Athletics

Despite losing half its starters from the 2016–17 roster, the Yale women’s lacrosse team opened the season with a narrow upset win at home over a ranked opponent.

The Bulldogs (1–0, 0–0 Ivy) began a season that will include seven games against nationally ranked teams, hosting then-No. 24 Albany (0–1, 0–0 America East) at Reese Stadium on Saturday. Yale got off to an early lead, and although the Great Danes were never far behind, they could not manage to surpass the Elis, who held on for a 12–10 upset victory.

“Graduating upperclassmen is always tough, but our current team has all the grit and talent necessary to take on the competition headed our way,” midfielder Vanessa Yu ’20 said. “It’s a new dynamic every year and we’re excited to implement the changes we’ve made on the defensive and offensive ends. Albany has a skilled attack, and our new defensive unit as a collective, made the stops crucial to winning the game.”

Yale returned to the field off a 7–9 overall record last season, but fell short in the Ivy League, winning just one game in seven conference matches, four of which were determined by two goals or fewer. With the graduation of six senior starters last spring, the team lost four defenders and a pair of All-Ivy honored attackers. Nonetheless, the young roster stepped up for the win, as eight different players scored to overcome the Great Danes.

The Bulldogs first gained control of the ball when attacker Izzy Nixon ’19 won the first draw control. Nixon shone on the draw for the remainder of the match, winning 10 total, including the final pair of critical faceoffs in the last minutes of the game. Last season, Nixon won 87 draw controls to rank second in the Ancient Eight. For her performance against Albany, she was named Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.

Although Nixon won the opening draw, Albany took the first shot of the game just a minute into the match, forcing goalkeeper Sydney Marks ’18 to make her first of four saves of the match. Yale followed up with a series of shots, but it took rookie attacker Kayla Duperrouzel ’21 to notch the game’s opening goal, five minutes into the half.

After Duperrouzel’s opener, the match remained close through the final minutes. The Great Danes equalized to one just 29 seconds later, and the widest margin the Elis would have on their opponents at any point during the match was three goals. Albany scored with less than a minute remaining in the first half to make the score 5–3, but Yu widened the gap to 6–3 with just two seconds remaining in the period to maximize Yale’s lead heading into the second.

A pair of goals by Albany to open the second half cut the advantage to one, where it would remain for much of the period. The Bulldogs were up 11–9 with less than four minutes on the clock when a Yale penalty gave the Great Danes a player advantage, on which they capitalized to score a free position goal and make it a one-goal game.

With an upset victory within sight, Nixon held on for the next draw, and Yale worked the clock until she could set Duperrouzel up for the third tally of the rookie’s collegiate debut and an insurance goal for the Bulldogs, who then ran the clock out to victory.

Duperrouzel and Yu each recorded a hat trick, and six other Bulldogs added goals, boding well for a balanced Yale offense in 2018.

Yale’s defense, anchored by Marks, held Albany, which averaged 14 goals per game last season, to just three goals in the first half and 10 in total. The Eli defense returned just one starting player from last year, defender Cooper Hall ’18, in addition to Marks, but was deepened by returning defenders Eliot Schulte ’19 and Margaret Stover ’20, as well as defender Taryn Gallagher ’18, who was moved this season to the role of starting defender after previously playing at midfield.

“Despite the fact that we graduated many seniors both defensively and offensively, we were confident going into the game,” captain and midfielder Madeleine Gramigna ’18 said. “We worked so hard and put in a lot of time and effort over the fall and in preseason. I think that everyone on the team stepped up, played well, and fought hard to pull through with this win.”

The Bulldogs next travel to play Quinnipiac at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

Angela Xiao | angela.xiao@yale.edu