Sam Rubin

Reeling from a disappointing 6–9 record last year and a tumultuous off-season, the Yale women’s lacrosse team (1–0, 0–0 Ivy) enters the 2020 season with new energy and a desire to prove themselves.

The program has suffered in recent years, posting losing records in five consecutive seasons since 2015. Yale’s lone Ivy win last campaign came in a 17–10 victory over Columbia.

This disappointing in-conference play, coupled with unusually high roster turnover, has the team positioned to launch a comeback campaign.

“We’re 100% committed to doing everything as a team and putting everything together so that when we do play, we can accomplish our goals,” Vanessa Yu ’20 said. “We came out with a win today, which was 100% our goal. Everyone from defense to offense to [midfielders], everyone stepped it up and played a huge role. Our freshmen especially — they completely dominated and this was their first college game and they absolutely crushed it.”

Erica Bamford, who enters her fifth season as head coach, has had to wrangle with the premature departures of six senior players last fall. Of the eight original members of the class of 2020, only Bronwyn Davies ’20 and Yu currently appear on the team’s roster. The team’s losses include the team’s Most Improved Player award winners from the previous two seasons: Hannah Burgess ’20 and Julia Watt ’20.

The Elis began their season Saturday with a victory against La Salle (0–2, 0–0 Atlantic 10) 16–12, an effort largely bolstered by a stellar first period. The Bulldogs also set the tone with five draw control wins in the first eight minutes by three different players, all first-years — midfielder Bri Carrasquillo ’23 with two, midfielder JoJo Gum ’23 with two, and midfielder Anna Vetsch ’23 with one.

Midfielder Olivia Markert ’21 made her mark just 17 seconds in, threading her way through the defense to score a crisp solo goal. A strong Yale offense pinned La Salle back to its own defensive zone, finding the net on five occasions before the Explorers were able to respond with one of their own. The Elis cruised through till the whistle and closed out the half with a four-point lead.

That lead was almost chipped away, however, by a rallying La Salle team who started the second half by scoring two uncontested goals. The Explorers’ cold first-half showing was unrepresentative of the firepower they had in store as they brought the Elis to a narrow three-point margin at two instances over the second period. The Bulldogs were able to see the game out, though they were outscored 8–9 in the second half by a La Salle team that had finally found its footing.

A number of Elis provided standout performances on the day to help their team across the line.

Attacker Isabel Webster ’21 made a highlight-reel play when she received the ball with her back to the cage, salvaging an over-the-shoulder no-look shot that left the keeper rooted to the spot and the crowd in awe. Markert followed up her scrimmage hat trick against New York Athletic Club with five goals, tying the career-high tally that she recorded as a first-year.

Midfielder Ana Dieroff ’23 had a debut to remember, coming off the bench to propel the Elis to a 6–4 lead with a first-half hat trick. The Fayetteville, New York, native ran the Explorers ragged all afternoon, slotting five past the La Salle keeper and linking up with her teammates to assist three goals.

“I was happy with [my performance], a lot of it [is thanks to] my coaches and the teammates just working well together,” Dieroff said. “I think the type of defense that we played against today allowed me to play to my strengths.”

This year’s scheduling sees the Bulldogs face off against four teams who were nationally ranked in last season’s final IWLCA national poll — No. 2 Boston College, No. 6 Princeton, No. 14 Penn and No. 20 Dartmouth. Though all made an appearance in the NCAA tournament, Boston College finished as runners up, while Princeton fell in the quarterfinals. The Elis will also travel across the country in March to test their skills against Fresno State and UC Davis. 

Yale’s last appearance in the NCAA tournament came in 2007.

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