The Yale women’s lacrosse team is a squad of 36, but it shares seven of its players with other Eli teams.
All athletes at Yale juggle their commitments to athletic competition, academic work and other aspects of Yale life. The balance is always hard, but it can be even harder for the women’s lacrosse team’s (7–6, 2–3 Ivy) seven two-sport athletes. Drawing from the field hockey, basketball, soccer and ice hockey teams for highly experienced and qualified talent, the team has added three of its two-sport walk-ons in just the last few months.
“I went to a high school with a very good lacrosse team, so it had always been in the back of my mind that I maybe would want to play here, but I just was not sure if the timing would work out,” said midfielder Megan Gorman ’20, who also plays basketball. “I just had to talk to both the basketball and lacrosse coaches more to figure out what balancing two sports would look like … The fact that lacrosse has a number of walk-ons made joining the team less intimidating.”
The most senior two-sport athletes on the lacrosse team are a trio of field hockey players — identical twins attackers Lily Smith ’18 and Katie Smith ’18 and attacker Kiwi Comizio ’18. While seven of the team’s athletes do double duty in the blue and white, Comizio is lacrosse’s only two-sport athlete who was recruited by Yale to play lacrosse.
In January of Comizio’s senior year of high school, field hockey head coach Pam Stuper asked her — after verbally committing to Yale lacrosse as a high school junior — to consider joining her team in the fall. Comizio accepted, and has since spent four full years with the two teams, playing attack in lacrosse and back in field hockey, making her the only player on the squad who will graduate with eight seasons of competition under her belt.
The New Vernon, New Jersey, native has made a mark on both of her teams, but ended up having a greater impact with field hockey. She started in all 51 of the team’s games throughout her first three seasons, before an ACL tear during her junior campaign with lacrosse sidelined her for the fall of her senior year. Missing her senior field hockey season was even harder for Comizio, as she had been elected to be the team’s captain before the injury.
Comizio’s teammates Smith and Smith are both four-year midfielders on the field hockey team and three-year attackers on lacrosse. The Duxbury duo was accomplished in both sports in high school, but both began their careers with Yale athletics as just field hockey players, picking up lacrosse in the spring of their sophomore years. Both made immediate impacts in their first seasons of collegiate lacrosse — Katie and Lily scored six and 11 tallies, respectively. Lily was third on the team in goals and fourth in points.
All three of Yale’s field hockey and lacrosse double-timers have other athletes in both sports in their immediate family. Comizio’s mother played both at Penn, and the Smiths have a sister who played field hockey at Quinnipiac and a brother who played lacrosse at Fairfield.
The other members of the team’s two-sport contingent have largely followed the Smiths’ schedule, starting in another sport and adding lacrosse in their sophomore years. Last year, defender Keri Cavallo ’19 joined the squad in the spring after two years with Yale soccer. In her rookie season with soccer, she scored three goals, good for third on the team. Unlike Comizio and the Smith twins, Cavallo joined lacrosse with no high school or club experience.
Comizio, Cavallo and the Smiths are in-season in both the fall and spring, with the winter as a buffer between their two competitive seasons. This year’s three additions, however, mark both the biggest surge in shared talent in recent history and the introduction of back-to-back in-season members. Midfielder Jordan Chancellor ’19 played three seasons with Yale women’s hockey before picking up lacrosse this spring at the conclusion of the ice hockey season. Chancellor, a forward on the ice, was also an accomplished high school lacrosse player — among other accolades, her lacrosse team won state championships in all three years she played.
“It was reassuring to know that there were multiple other two-sport athletes that had found ways to balance their other sports with lacrosse,” Chancellor said. “It has been an incredible learning experience to be a part of another team and see what makes them successful, and I hope to bring some of that back with me when I rejoin the hockey team again in the fall.”
Midfielder Bronwyn Davies ’20 and Gorman are both additions from this year’s history-making women’s basketball squad. Basketball’s triumph in the postseason meant that they missed much of the early part of lacrosse season, but both have strong backgrounds in lacrosse. Gorman was a two-time All-American in lacrosse and Davies balanced commitments to three sports in high school: basketball, lacrosse and soccer.
The teams’ two-sport athletes said they recognize the trade-off they make by competing in two sports at the NCAA Division I level, paying special respect to the coaches and programs that recruited them.
“While I was a little nervous to talk to [basketball head coach Allison Guth] at the end of the season, she was so supportive and excited that we were going to try a different sport,” Davies said. “I obviously knew that by joining lacrosse I was giving up some time spent working on my basketball skills, getting more shots up and doing more reps, but after such a long basketball season, sometimes getting a breath of fresh air and trying something different is a good thing.”
While only Comizio and the Smith twins have tallied points this season, players towards the end of the bench play a crucial role in preparation for games because the sport is so compartmentalized. Offensive and defensive players serve in vastly different roles and need more backups to spar with in practice than in other sports.
The Bulldogs travel to Dartmouth to take on the Big Green on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Angela Xiao | firstname.lastname@example.org