The Yale women’s lacrosse team travels to Princeton this Saturday for a critical game in this year’s race to qualify for the Ivy League Tournament.
The Bulldogs (7–5, 2–2 Ivy) currently sit in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Ivy League after a disappointing, narrow loss to Columbia last weekend that saw Yale fall behind early. Although the Elis managed to rally and tie the score at 10 with eight minutes remaining in the match, the Lions scored twice in the game’s final moments to grab the 12–10 victory. With the loss, Yale entered a three-way tie with Columbia and Cornell — to whom the Bulldogs fell early in the season after a similarly disappointing start — while trailing No. 10 Penn, No. 14 Dartmouth and Princeton. Saturday’s match against the Tigers (6–5, 2–1) is the first of a pair of away games before the Bulldogs return home for their final match of the season, when they host the Quakers.
“Princeton is a huge game for us,” attacker Kayla Duperrouzel ’21 said. “This Columbia loss is painful … more than anything that game reminded us that every single rep in practice matters. We simply cannot afford to take any moments for granted if we want to achieve our goals for the season.”
Princeton leads the Ivy League in total championship titles. The Tigers shared last year’s Ivy title with No. 10 Penn, but lack last year’s dominance, playing a number of closer games this season. After a narrow 12–10 victory over Brown to open conference play for the year, the Tigers fell to a strong Dartmouth squad 15–12.
In some ways, the Tigers look a lot like Yale. They have found success in keeping up with strong opponents — they fell to No. 3 Maryland and No. 16 Syracuse by one-goal margins and upset No. 14 Penn State. Although Yale’s recent performances have left much to be desired, it too has upset ranked opponents early in the season and held on admirably against stronger competition.
Surprisingly, the Bulldogs have struggled the most against competitors with whom they seemed evenly matched. Against both Cornell and Columbia, Yale allowed the opponents to dominate the first half — but then came back to flip the script for a more even, if not dominant, second half. This dynamic proves that the team’s issue is not ability, but rather confidence, aggressiveness and all the other factors that have contributed to their weak starts. If they can manage to avoid digging themselves into an early hole, they will have a much easier time securing an important victory against Princeton.
The Elis will need to put together a strong performance against the Tigers. This team is stacked with rookie talent, as goalie Sam Fish, in her first year on the team, has registered a strong first season, already boasting the second-highest Ivy save percentage. Classmate Kyla Sears leads Princeton in goals, assists and points, with 35 goals across 11 matches.
Yale has its own pool of power players to draw on, however, beginning with attacker Izzy Nixon ’19 and her dominance on the draw control. Last weekend, Nixon set the Ivy League record for most draw controls per season, and she will no doubt seek to add to her total on Saturday. On the offensive side, Nixon’s contributions are joined by that of a trio of young players — Duperrouzel, midfielder Olivia Markert ’21 and midfielder Barrett Carlson ’20. Duperrouzel and Markert have already left their impression on the team as rookies. Markert missed the first four games of the season but has contributed goals in each of the last eight, while Duperrouzel has scored in seven of her 11 appearances. Markert and Duperrouzel own the team’s second- and third-highest shooting percentages, and Carlson leads the team in goals, with 20 across 12 matches.
The Bulldogs’ greatest offensive strength, however, is their depth. Although a handful of players have recorded five-goal games throughout the season, Yale’s scorers have come from all over the team, with five contributing against Columbia and six in the team’s last victory, against Marist two weeks ago.
Yale has also not played away from Reese Stadium in three weeks, last travelling to play Cornell at the end of March. Interestingly enough, the Tigers own a 0–4 home record, although that can be explained partly by the high rankings of all its visitors to this point.
The Bulldogs and Tigers face off at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Angela Xiao | firstname.lastname@example.org