Steve Musco

The Yale women’s lacrosse team entered Saturday’s contest against Harvard looking to break a seven-year losing streak to the Crimson. After waiting seven years to top its rival, Yale could not pull ahead during the 60 minutes of play and only secured the victory in overtime.

The Bulldogs (4–0, 1–0 Ivy) started conference play this weekend, hosting Harvard (2–2, 0–1) after emerging victorious from their first three matches of the season via two upsets of ranked teams. At Reese Stadium, the Elis scored an epic victory over Harvard with a 16–15 overtime victory. The win was made even more triumphant by the return of two-sport attacker Kiwi Comizio ’18, whose first goal of the season handed Yale the win after injury sidelined her from both the end of lacrosse last spring and the entire field hockey season in the fall.

“We tried to go in treating it like any other game, putting in the work all week mentally and physically to prepare and then execute on Saturday,” Comizio said. “It has just been so nice to be able to play again after so many months off, even with some of the adjustments I’ve had to make. Finishing off that big game was such a good feeling, being able to see all the hard work I’ve put in pay off and just in general to hit a big milestone beating Harvard with the team.”

With the win, Yale extended its undefeated opening of the season to 4–0, its best start since 2014, and earned redemption from its one-goal loss against the Crimson a year ago.

Until Saturday, the Elis had largely relied on the dominance of attacker Izzy Nixon ’19 on the draw control and strong starts to ride early leads to victory, but Harvard posed an immediate challenge to the Bulldogs’ well-established system.

After the Elis opened the match with a pair of goals by midfielder Emily Granger ’18 and rookie attacker Kayla Duperrouzel ’21, last week’s Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week, Harvard responded with five consecutive goals to put the Crimson ahead by three midway into the first period. Nixon, who entered the game with the nation’s highest draw controls per game, found herself stifled as the Crimson won seven of the first eight draws.

“We knew nothing would come easy during the game,” Duperrouzel said. “Harvard is an excellent team, and our rivalry ensures that every time we play each other it will be an absolute battle. We kept our composure even though we were down early, and I think the confidence we have in one another really showed as we fought through to win.”

Harvard had one glaring weakness even in its early run — it racked up 17 fouls to Yale’s six in the first period. Attacker Addie Zinsner ’19 capitalized on that weakness to begin the comeback effort for the Bulldogs, converting on a free position shot. Nixon followed it up a minute later before Crimson junior attacker Keeley MacAfee, on the heels of her six-goal performance against UC Davis, found the back of the net for Harvard.

But MacAfee’s tally did not derail the Bulldogs’ momentum — three Eli goals followed to hand Yale a narrow 7–6 lead with 88 seconds remaining in the half, but MacAfee returned with another goal a minute later to even out the scoreboard to 7–7 at the half.

The second period was just as competitive, as Harvard opened with a goal to lead 8–7 before the Bulldogs managed a three-goal run. Captain and midfielder Madeleine Gramigna ’18 scored the first tally of the trio with an assist from midfielder Barrett Carlson ’20, who followed it up by scoring the first two of her four eventual goals for the match.

The rivals then traded shots evenly until a yellow card on Harvard gave Yale an opportunity to pull away. The rookie Duperrouzel took a free position shot and scored on the player advantage to bring Yale’s lead to 14–12 with 11 minutes left to play, but the Crimson earned a free position of its own just a minute later. MacAfee, with her team still down a player, scored her fifth goal before Carlson extended the lead back to two with her fourth and final goal of the game four minutes later.

The Crimson pressed on, scoring again despite Nixon’s return to anchoring the Eli offense, controlling seven draws in the second half. With four minutes left on the clock, Harvard made it a one-goal game again. Although Nixon won the next draw, the Crimson called a timeout with three minutes left on the clock. Upon play restarting, MacAfee played savior for Harvard one more time. She scored for the sixth time against Yale and 17th time this season, recording her second consecutive six-goal game and tying up the rivals at 15.

In overtime, Nixon delivered her 11th win of the game on the draw control. Her draw and an assist from Granger set up Comizio for a drive to the goal and shot into the right side of the net that marked a long-awaited return to scoring for the senior and an instant celebration from the squad.

“We wanted this so, so badly, and it was completely evident the entire game, end line to end line,” goalie Sydney Marks ’18 said. “I’m pretty sure we were tied five different times too, which is a testament in itself to how much of a battle this game was. It truly came down to who wanted it more and who could push through.”

Eight players scored for the Yale victory with Carlson leading the team with four tallies — all of which came in the second half — and rookie midfielder Sam Higgins ’21 earning her first collegiate hat trick.

Angela Xiao | angela.xiao@yale.edu