Yale Athletics

On the road for the first time in three weeks, the Yale women’s lacrosse team suffered its toughest loss yet against perennial powerhouse Princeton.

The Bulldogs (7–6, 2–3 Ivy) have now lost three consecutive Ivy League games and have just two matches remaining to determine their playoff fate. They entered the weekend in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Ivy League with Cornell and Columbia. The Big Red and the Lions fell in their weekend matches as well, leaving the tie intact and the race for a spot in the Ivy League Tournament deadlocked heading into the final stretch of the season.

On Saturday, despite a strong showing by the Yale defense, a ruthless Tiger offense, combined with Yale’s own stifled offensive output, left the Elis behind early. The Bulldogs never caught up and eventually fell to Princeton (7–5, 3–1) 18–4.

“Our attack stuck to the game plan and executed it the way they were supposed to,” goalie Sydney Marks ’18 said. “The Princeton defense was just incredibly prepared for what we’d do, and as a result they were able to shut down a lot of our plays very quickly and early. The whole game everyone battled hard, but I think we collected ourselves and hustled even harder in the second half to notch a few goals.”

Before Saturday, the Bulldogs usually performed in one of two ways. They often fought hard against their toughest, highest-ranked opponents such as No. 2 Boston College and No. 6 Towson — and even when they lost, the Elis put up well-rounded and consistent efforts.

Against more evenly-matched opponents, they have struggled in the opening minutes of matches before managing a breakthrough at some point with aggressive catch-up play. Although the outcomes of those comeback attempts have been a mixed bag, there has always been a noticeable shift in the Elis’ play throughout the match. On Saturday, however, the Bulldogs never changed gears after a slow start, as the relentless Tigers grabbed a runaway victory.

Despite attacker Izzy Nixon ’19 breaking the Ivy League record for most draw controls in a season last week, it was the Tigers who won the first draw control and then, two minutes later, scored the game’s first goal.

Yale’s early errors gave the Tigers their early opportunities, beginning with a free position shot three minutes after the first goal; goalie Marks made a season-high of 17 saves for the game. Just 30 seconds later, another Yale foul gave Princeton its second free position attempt, which it converted to lead 2–0. In the two minutes that followed, the Elis gave the Tigers another pair of free positions. Princeton capitalized on the second to make it 3–0.

The tide seemed to turn for the Bulldogs when captain and midfielder Madeleine Gramigna ’18 won Yale’s first draw control immediately after. Within the minute, rookie midfielder Olivia Markert ’21 notched Yale’s first tally and cut the deficit to two. Markert, who missed the season’s first four games, has scored in every match — her goal on Saturday extends that streak to nine games, including a critical five-goal performance in the Elis’ one-goal comeback victory against Marist.

But the Elis continued to stumble and were punished by their indiscipline, as Princeton notched another free position goal to bring the score to 4–1 and nip any budding Bulldog momentum. In the last 10 minutes of the first half, the Tigers added four more tallies while holding Yale scoreless to enter halftime up 8–1. Of those four goals, one was a free-position goal and another with Princeton on the player advantage.

While the Tigers continued to dominate the second half, the Bulldogs put up a much stronger showing. After Princeton notched the first three goals to widen its lead to 11–1, the largest deficit the Bulldogs have owned at any point this season, Yale returned to score a pair of goals. Nixon notched the first and, on an Eli player advantage, attacker Katie Smith ’18 tallied the second to bring the score to 12–3 with just over half the second period remaining.

Princeton responded with a pair of goals, but the Bulldogs then recorded a fourth goal from midfielder Emily Granger ’18. Although the Tigers managed to score five more times to close out the game 18–4, none of them came in offensive barrages. Instead, while Yale put up a strong play on defense, anchored by another astonishing 17 saves from Marks, the Tigers pushed relentlessly, slipping one through the cracks every couple of minutes to secure a dominant win.

“I think we played well in settled offense and defense, it was really the transition that gave us trouble,” attacker Kayla Duperrouzel ’21 said. “Sydney Marks played out of her mind, 17 saves against such incredible shooters on Princeton is insane.”

Yale’s final opponents of the season are the Ivy League’s two ranked teams, No. 17 Dartmouth and No. 10 Penn.

Angela Xiao | angela.xiao@yale.edu