Courtesy of Sam Rubin '95/Yale Athletics

Coming off three straight wins, the Yale women’s lacrosse team (8–2, 4–0 Ivy) defeated Harvard (4–5, 2–2) 13–12 on Saturday and rose to 4–0 in conference play.

The Bulldogs narrowly defeated their biggest rival, Harvard, on Saturday afternoon. Yale has some of its most difficult matchups of the season coming up, with No. 20 ranked University of Connecticut, No. 5 ranked Stony Brook and No. 12 Princeton being some of their opponents.

Harvard came in tied for fifth in the Ivy League Preseason Poll, the Bulldogs sat at seventh. However, Yale has surpassed expectations so far, defeating Penn, Dartmouth and Brown, ranked second, third and fifth in the Ivy League, respectively, before putting the icing on the cake by earning a win against old rival Harvard.

“We are extremely excited about getting another Ivy win. We are such a young team, but the freshmen are stepping up and playing a huge role,” captain Kelsey Dunn ’22 said.

This was somewhat of a historic victory, as ​​this is the first time since 1995 the Yale women’s lacrosse team started 4–0 in conference play. 

The talented first-year class stepped up with midfielder Taylor Lane ’25 and attacker Caroline Burt ’25 breaking an 11–11 tie in the final 5:25. The Elis were able to cling onto the lead and hold off the Crimson onslaught to secure a 13-12 victory.

Just like last week’s 10-goal run against Brown (5–5, 2–2), the Bulldogs’ goals were scored in clusters. Harvard managed to keep Yale scoreless for nearly 12 minutes to start the game, but over the course of the next two minutes, the Elis scored four goals, two of which came from attacker Taylor Everson ’25 and assisted by midfielder Fallon Vaughn ’25, which gained Yale a 4–2 lead to close out the first quarter. Though the game was close, Yale never gave up the lead after the early four-goal run. The rookies definitely put on a show, with seven of Yale’s goals coming from the class of 2025, and the remaining six coming from Olivia Markert ’22.

“The leadership on our team has been tremendous and it was evident in our game today,” head coach Erica Bamford told Yale Athletics. “Olivia Markert was excellent and efficient on the offensive end. Credit to Olivia Penoyer ’23 for consistently quarterbacking our young offense. It was not an easy feat against Harvard’s exceptional defense.”

Both offenses gained steam in the second quarter, with Harvard and Yale hitting the back of the net five times apiece. However, both teams’ defenses stepped it up in the third, each only allowing two goals. 

Yale goalie Clare Boone ’23 made three saves in the fourth, but Harvard midfielder Callie Hem scored twice in four minutes to tie the game at 11 goals apiece at the beginning of the fourth.

“We competed really hard and executed our game plan. We’re just going to continue working hard and carry this momentum into our next game,” Boone said.

Burt scored an underhanded backhand goal to make the score 13–11 and put the nail in the coffin with 2:46 left in regulation. After that, Harvard won the draw, but Yale’s defense stayed strong, forcing Hem to take a low-percentage shot that was saved by Boone. With 1:28 left in regulation, Harvard attacker Riley Campbell scored to chop the Bulldogs’ lead in half. Off the draw, Vaughn made a huge play to give Yale possession, which allowed Markert to hold the rock and run out the clock.

Yale is now the only team to have four wins and zero losses within the Ivy League, which has earned it the No. 19 spot in the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse RPI rankings. Princeton is 2–0 after winning against Brown on Saturday, and Cornell won against Penn to improve to 3–1.

Cornell beat out Penn 13–9 last Saturday to snap the Quakers’ two-win streak. Cornell will face a tough test against No. 4 Syracuse on Tuesday, April 12. The Big Red has had a solid season thus far, going 7–4 overall.  After Syracuse, Cornell will close out the regular season by playing Yale, Brown and Dartmouth, aiming to secure their spot in the Ivy League tournament. 

The Bulldogs aim to keep their undefeated conference record alive, as they take on Cornell next Saturday, April 16 at noon in Ithaca, New York.