Second Ivy League Game Follows Week of Training, Game vs. No. 7 Notre Dame Down South
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale women's lacrosse team is back in New Haven after a week of training in Florida, where the Bulldogs played No. 7 Notre Dame at the 16th annual "Spring Fling" tournament. After a 15-9 loss to the fighting Irish Tuesday night, Yale looks to bounce back Saturday afternoon with a 1 p.m. game vs. No. 9 Penn, which has won or shared the last five Ivy League championships.
In addition to the game vs. Notre Dame, Yale (2-2, 0-1 Ivy League) practiced every day that it was in Florida, finishing the last practice with a special skills clinic that attracted several dozen local girls' lacrosse players. In the game vs. the Fighting Irish the Bulldogs continued to showcase their offensive improvement, even in a losing effort. Through four games this season they have scored 45 goals -- more than twice as many as they had after four games last year (22), when they started the season 0-4.
Those goals have come from 10 different players, and five players have six or more goals. Senior attacker Caroline Crow (Davidsonville, Md.) and junior attacker Devon Rhodes (E. Northport, N.Y.) lead the way with eight goals each. The rest of Yale's goals -- 29 of 45 -- have come from freshmen and sophomores.
The Bulldogs have also made dramatic strides on the draw control, where they have a 55-45 edge so far this season. In 2011 Yale's opponents outdrew the Bulldogs 159-125. Two of Yale's tallest players -- 5-foot-11 freshman midfielder Christina Doherty (Bernardsville, N.J.) and 6-foot sophomore attacker Sabine van der Linden (London, England) -- have made the difference, combining for 20 draws between them. Speedy freshman midfielder Cathryn Avallone (Manhasset, N.Y.) has added eight draws, and she and Rhodes are the only players to have scored at least one point in all four of Yale's games.
Yale is averaging 16.25 ground balls per game, the second-best average in the Ivy League. Sophomore midfielder Ashley McCormick (Paoli, Pa.) leads the team with nine, followed by Avallone and Doherty with eight each.
The Bulldogs and Quakers have been locked in low-scoring battles in the last couple years, with neither team scoring more than seven goals. Two years ago at Reese Stadium, Yale had a 2-1 halftime lead on the Quakers, but Penn -- ranked No. 5 in the country at the time -- outscored Yale 6-3 in the second half for the 7-5 win. Last year in Philadelphia a goal by Myra Trivellas '11 tied the game 2-2 early in the second half, but Penn pulled away with five goals in the final 25:14 for a 7-2 win. The Quakers were ranked No. 4 in the country at the time.
Penn (3-1, 1-0 Ivy League) is coming off a 14-13 overtime win vs. Harvard last Saturday in which attacker Courtney Tomchik scored the game-winning goal with 24 seconds left. The Quakers have now won 36 of their last 37 Ivy League games dating back to 2006, with the lone loss coming last season vs. Princeton.
Attacker Erin Brennan had a hat trick against Yale last year and remains one of Penn's top offensive weapons. She had a school-record seven assists in the 15-7 win over Rutgers Mar. 7, then followed that up with a hat trick against Harvard to join the 100-goal club. Brennan and goalkeeper Emily Leitner are both on the Tewaaraton Trophy watch list. Leitner has a .394 save percentage and a 10.49 goals-against average.
Midfielder Maddie Poplawski leads the Ivy League with 24 draw controls, while Tomchik and attacker Caroline Bunting have a team-best 10 goals. Penn has an extremely efficient offense, leading the league with a .552 shooting percentage. The Quakers turn the ball over just nine times per game, the best average among Ancient Eight teams.
Yale is 18-16-1 all-time vs. Penn. The Bulldogs won 10 straight in the series from 1995 through 2004, but Penn has won the last seven.
Yale vs. Penn, Saturday, 1 p.m.:
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity