Fiorentino Named MVP as Bulldogs Announce Awards

Michele Fiorentino. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Michele Fiorentino. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Eliasberg Earns Holgate Award Again; Crow is Most Improved

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale women's lacrosse team announced its annual award winners Monday afternoon at the team's season-ending luncheon. Senior defender Michele Fiorentino (Berwyn, Pa.) won the Bowditch Award as most valuable player, while senior defender Claire Eliasberg (San Diego, Calif.) won the Holgate Award for dedication and sophomore attacker Caroline Crow (Davidsonville, Md.) was named Most Improved Player. The Bulldogs also recognized all of the seniors – Eliasberg, Fiorentino, attacker Jenna Block (Owings Mills, Md.), midfielder Sarah David (New Haven, Conn.), attacker Lindsey DeMarco (Marlboro, N.J.), midfielder Natalie Reid (Ellicott City, Md.) and attacker Jessica Sturgill (Ellicott City, Md.) -- with special gifts: engraved pendants.

This is the second major award in less than a week for Fiorentino, who was named Second Team All-Ivy League last Tuesday. One of Yale's top defenders since her freshman year, Fiorentino produced some of the best numbers of her career this year. She led the team with 20 caused turnovers and was also second in ground balls (25). That included a three-caused turnover, three-ground ball game in Yale's 17-13 win over Harvard. She repeated those numbers in Yale's win over Columbia.

Throughout her career Fiorentino was one of the team's most reliable players, with 57 career starts, and she missed just three games. She routinely marked one of the opposing team's top scorers.

“Michele has the heart of a champion,” said Anne Phillips, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Lacrosse. “She was the one taking the ball away, sliding for her teammates, playing 1v1 … She really understood our defense.”

The Bowditch Award is named after Barbara Bowditch, the coach of Yale's first varsity team (1976).

Fiorentino is a biology major in Timothy Dwight College. Prior to Yale she attended Conestoga High.

This is the second straight year that Eliasberg has won the Holgate Award, which is given to the player whose dedication to the ideals of Yale and to the success of women's lacrosse measure up to the standards set by James G. "Gib" Holgate, a member of the Yale athletic administration from 1954 to 1985.

“Claire has a great work ethic and was one of our best 1v1 stoppers this year,” Phillips said. “She is a tremendous leader as a captain and as a mentor for this team.”

The award provides another highlight for Eliasberg, the 35th captain in Yale women's lacrosse history. Her high school, La Jolla Country Day, did not even have a lacrosse team until Eliasberg's senior season. She thus arrived at Yale unrecruited, having played only one season of high school lacrosse, and appeared in just five games for the Bulldogs as a freshman in 2007. She emerged as one of Yale's most reliable defenders as a sophomore, playing in 14 games and starting the final 11 to earn the Most Improved Player award. She played in all 31 games over the past two seasons, and had career highs in ground balls (17) and caused turnovers (11) this past year.

Eliasberg comes from a family full of Yale connections. Her parents, John and Ginger, are both 1981 Yale graduates and her mother swam for the Bulldogs. Her cousin Brendan Woo '08 also swam for Yale, and her cousin Lauren Woo is a 2009 Yale graduate. Eliasberg's brother, Jake, is a freshman at Yale.

Eliasberg is a history of science/history of medicine major in Trumbull College and plans to go to medical school, as does Fiorentino.

“When you look at Claire and Michele, they're both going to go on and become doctors or researchers,” Phillips said. “It's unbelievable what they may accomplish. The mental toughness that they've shown, and their work ethics and dedication, will serve them well. This program would not have been the same without them, and we look forward to where the future takes them.”

The senior class led Yale to 35 wins, including 14 Ivy League wins, and an NCAA Tournament appearance. 

Crow's selection as most improved player comes on the heels of a dramatic increase in her offensive output. After scoring one goal as a freshman she scored 12 this season, finishing fourth on the team. She added five assists to finish with 17 points. In addition to her offensive contributions, Crow's speed also made her a key part of Yale's ride.

One of the main reasons Crow was able to contribute more this season was simple; she stayed healthy. After an impressive fall ball performance in her freshman year, Crow suffered a hand injury in the spring of 2009 but tried to play through it.

“For two weeks she didn't say a word,” said Phillips. “She kept practicing and playing through it, and she had a broken hand.”

Crow's hand was eventually put in a cast, and she wound up playing in just six games. She tried to tough it out again this past fall when it was discovered that she needed to have her tonsils removed, but she wound up missing fall ball and did not play in the first four games of the 2010 season. Crow began making up for lost time by putting together a seven-game point-scoring streak when she returned to the field, including a hat trick in Yale's 11-9 upset at then-No. 13 BU.

“She really just found her game and her confidence and did an amazing job for us,” Phillips said.

Crow is a member of Jonathan Edwards College. Prior to Yale she attended Severn.

In addition to announcing the award winners, Yale also announced that junior defender Fielding Kidd (Atlanta, Ga.) was elected captain for the 2010-11 season by her teammates.

See also:

Fielding Kidd Elected 2010-11 Captain

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity