Yale Welcomes its Adopted Sisters with Victory
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Wednesday was already a storybook-type day at Reese Stadium, as the Bulldogs welcomed their newly adopted teammate, 13-year old Alanna, who is undergoing treatment at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven. The biggest question was whether the story would have a happy ending -- especially after the Bulldogs fell behind Brown by three goals early on, then twice let one-goal leads slip away late in the second half. But the answer finally came from junior midfielder/defender Kaitlyn Flatley, who bounced in the game-winning goal in dramatic fashion with just nine seconds left. That capped a thrilling day all-around and gave Yale an 8-7 win in its Ivy League opener.
Alanna and her younger sisters, Mia and Emma, were introduced to the Reese Stadium crowd along with the team before the game. Alanna and Mia joined the Bulldogs on the sideline, while Emma and their mother watched from the stands. They saw a memorable game in which every possession mattered.
“It was incredibly intense, because we had to battle from behind,” said Anne Phillips, Yale’s Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women’s Lacrosse. “When we went ahead by one in the second half I turned to Alanna and Mia and said ‘Isn’t this exciting?,’ and before we knew it Brown went down and tied it. For our last possession, we called timeout and made sure everybody knew what we were doing.”
Yale (3-3, 1-0 Ivy League) got that final possession after Brown (2-3, 0-2 Ivy League) turned the ball over in front of the Yale goal with just over two minutes to play. After the Bulldogs completed the clear, they called timeout with 1:36 on the clock and set up the play. Yale eventually worked the ball to freshman midfielder Devon Rhodes, who set up near the top of the 8-meter arc with less than a minute to go. Rhodes already had three goals for the game -- and a team-leading 13 for the season -- so she naturally drew the full attention of the Brown defense as she began driving. As the final seconds ticked away Rhodes had no room to move, so she passed it over to Flatley a few feet away. Flatley drove to the right and was able to get off a shot under heavy pressure, bouncing it in while falling to the turf. Rhodes was there to give her a celebratory embrace when she got back up.
“We thought they would key on Devon,” Phillips said. “Kaitlyn stepped up and took that drive. We got the ball in her stick at the right time.”
The clutch goal was yet another step in the evolution of the Yale offense in general, and Flatley in particular. She now has 10 career goals (five this season) on 15 career shots.
“Kaitlyn had been a low defender throughout her career,” Phillips said. “This year I asked her to come to the midfield because we’re so young in that area. I wanted an upperclassman in there. She worked extremely hard to get herself into midfield shape, and that paid off today.”
It was the second goal of the game for Flatley, who had put Yale up 7-6 with a free position goal with 10:07 to play -- only to have Brown midfielder Paris Waterman score her fifth goal of the game to tie it up with 4:03 to play.
Waterman also had the first goal of the game, part of a quick 3-0 start for the Bears in the first 6:34 of the game. But after that the Yale defense settled down, and Flatley started Yale’s first comeback by causing a turnover, clearing the ball and then passing to Rhodes for a goal at 21:19 of the first.
“We’ve struggled coming off the first whistle so far this season,” said Phillips. “But with this being the first Ivy League game, and with a spot in the Ivy League tournament now at stake, we knew this was a huge game. There wasn’t a letdown.”
After sophomore goalie Whitney Quackenbush denied a free position shot by attacker Katelyn Caro, Brown goalie Isabel Harvey answered by stopping a shot from right in front by freshman midfielder Kristen Chapman. But the Bulldogs continued chipping away at the Brown lead, getting a goal by Rhodes at 13:29 to draw within 3-2.
Senior attacker Jenna Block then chased down a loose ball behind the cage after a shot by Flatley. She came around the side and deposited the game-tying goal with 10 minutes left in the first half, and that was where the score remained until Bears midfielder Alexa Caldwell grabbed a loose ball in front of the Yale cage and snuck it past Quackenbush with just one second left before halftime.
Quackenbush, who finished with seven saves, stopped another free position shot a minute into the second, and Block scored on a fast break to tie the score 4-4 at 28:43. But Harvey, who finished with four saves, stopped a point-blank attempt by Block right after that and the Bears were able to come down the field for another goal by Waterman to re-take the lead.
Sophomore attacker Caroline Crow then swung momentum back in Yale’s favor with a pair of big plays. First, she tied the score with a free position goal. Then, she got the draw control, drove down the field and fed Rhodes to put Yale up 6-5.
This was the second big game in a row for Crow, who was also a key factor in Yale’s 9-8 win at Marist Saturday.
“Caroline has battled back from the injury she had as a freshman and is playing with confidence,” said Phillips. “She has a great shot, and her speed on the ride is a huge asset. With [sophomore attacker] Winnie Call, she gives us two lefties, and that can present some interesting matchups against opposing defenses.”
Waterman tied the score at 10:47, then -- perhaps fittingly on St. Patrick’s Day, given her Irish heritage -- Flatley scored two of the game’s final three goals to give the Bulldogs the win.
“Playing under that kind of pressure, to execute the way we did was a great step for this team,” said Phillips. “Falling behind early has, unfortunately, been familiar territory for us. The next step is for us to take control of the game right from the beginning.”
Yale hosts defending Ivy League champion Penn Saturday at 1 p.m.
Report by Sam Rubin ’95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity