McMullan Adds 12 Saves
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – For about 40 minutes of Wednesday afternoon's game vs. Brown at Reese Stadium, sophomore goalkeeper Erin McMullan and the Yale defense had to hold down the fort. The Bears scored five of the game's first seven goals, but they could have had many more were it not for McMullan -- she had nine saves in the first half alone. And then the Yale attack began clicking, as a goal by senior attacker Caroline Crow (one of five on the day for her) started a six-goal run midway through the second half that turned the score in the Bulldogs' favor. The Yale defense allowed Brown only one goal in the final 28 minutes of the game to close out the 9-6 comeback win.
"It was a tale of two halves again," said Anne Phillips, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Lacrosse. "We had to rely on saves and defensive stops to help us stay in the game early on, and we had 13 turnovers in the first half. It was a struggle, but in the second half we possessed the ball better, shot better, and did what we needed to do to get back in the game."
With Brown winning five of seven draw controls in the first half, and with Yale turning the ball over 13 times, McMullan and the defense were kept busy. After a pair of Brown goals in the first five minutes, the Bulldogs settled down defensively. Yale got on the scoreboard thanks to freshman midfielder Cathryn Avallone picking up a loose ball in the 8-meter arc and firing in her 14th goal of the season at 23:58.
McMullan denied a Brown free position shot shortly after that, and the game became more and more of a defensive struggle. Yale managed only five shots in the half, but after Crow answered a Brown goal with one of her own at the 11:10 mark the Bulldogs found themselves within 3-2.
That would have been the score at halftime, but right after sophomore defender Kallie Parchman forced a Brown attacker to shoot wide with less than five seconds to play, Brown attacker Grace Healy scored at the 2.2-second mark.
The Bulldogs' second-half adjustments did not take immediate effect, as Brown attacker Bre Hudgins scored 1:37 into the second to put Brown up 5-2. But McMullan stopped a free position shot by attacker Kaela McGilloway a minute later, and after that it was all Yale. Crow drove to goal and drew a shooting space call, enabling her to fire in her second goal of the game on a free position at 20:13. Two minutes after that she curled around from behind the cage and shot low to bring Yale within a goal, 5-4.
After that the Bulldogs made a switch in who was taking the draw control, as freshman midfielder Emily Rutland came on as the third player to try to negate Brown attacker Grace Healy (who had a team-high 29 draws entering the game, and got three more Wednesday).
"We tried winning it long, and we tried winning it with self-draws, but that wasn't working," said Phillips. "Emily is the best at bringing it down the line, at least getting it where they weren't expecting it so that it could be a 50/50 ball."
The strategy worked, as Yale would win four of the next five draws. Freshman midfielder Christina Doherty got two, Rutland got one and freshman defender Jayne Flynn got one. That kept the goal-scoring run going.
After being limited to two goals in the first 39:47, the Yale attack began clicking by driving and drawing fouls. Another shooting space call on the Bears enabled junior attacker Devon Rhodes to tie the game with a free position goal at 17:22. Freshman attacker Kerri Fleishhacker then put Yale ahead 6-5 on another free position goal one minute later, finding the lower left corner of the cage.
That prompted a timeout by Brown (6-6, 1-4 Ivy League), but that did not slow down the Bulldogs. Rhodes fed Crow down low and Crow cut in front for her fourth goal at 15:33.
Up 7-5 with just over 12 minutes to play, the Bulldogs began milking the clock. When Rhodes saw a chance to drive again she took it, causing another shooting space violation by the Bears. Rhodes ripped one high on Brown goalie Isabel Harvey to put Yale up 8-5 with 12:01 to play.
Brown finally got back on the scoreboard with 5:23 left on a goal by midfielder Alexandra Crerend, snapping Yale's scoreless streak at 23 minutes. When the Bears got the ensuing draw control and earned a free position shot, the Bulldog defense once again rose to the challenge. Doherty was able to get a piece of midfielder Tara Rooke's stick, sending Rooke's shot wide. Right after that, Flynn drew a charging call on Crerend to get the ball back for the Bulldogs.
Sophomore attacker Jen DeVito passed to Avallone to finish the clear with three minutes to play, but the Bulldogs turned it over and Brown got another chance. After Hudgins sent a shot wide, McGilloway's free position shot with 1:20 left hit the post. The Bears maintained possession, though, and a foul call with 52.7 seconds left put McGilloway back on the 8-meter arc for a dramatic finish. McMullan came up with a huge save, and freshman midfielder Erin Magnuson passed to Avallone to finish the clear with 30 seconds left.
That was the end to a frustrating day for McGilloway, who came in as Brown's leading scorer (21-22-43) but left with no points and only two shots on goal. As has often been the case when an opposing team's leading scorer disappears from the stat sheet, the responsible party Wednesday was sophomore defender Adrienne Tarver, who had a matchup on McGilloway and left her little room to operate.
With Harvey pressuring out from the cage to try to force a turnover on Yale's final possession, Doherty fed Crow for an empty-net goal with 7.4 seconds left to put the game out of reach.
This is Crow's second straight game with five goals. She now has an 11-game point scoring streak and 16 points in the last three games. Those numbers helped earn her a special amount of attention from the Brown defense Wednesday, as she was face guarded for the first time all year.
"We told her how to take her defender into the crease and just pick her off," said Phillips. "Everything we ran on the crease seemed to work. We changed the point of attack from high to low, and were able to get some drives and some shooting space calls. That gave us the run we needed."
Yale's run also coincided with Fleishhacker's entry into the game, which was no coincidence.
"She's quick and she's tough to defend as a lefthander," said Phillips. "We brought Kerri into the game for her ability to drive and score, and also for her ability to ride and get the ball back."
With Fleishhacker in as an attacker, Avallone moved from attack back to midfield to give the Bulldogs even more speed. Those two helped reverse Yale's fortunes on clears in the second half: Brown was 4-for-5 in the first half and Yale was just 6-for-11, but in the second half Yale was a perfect 7-for-7 while Brown was just 6-for-10.
The end result was Yale's biggest second-half comeback for a win (trailing by three goals) since rallying from the same deficit Mar. 7 to beat Bryant at Reese.
"This is the first time in a while that we have been behind that far and came back to win it," said Phillips. "It was a great day in goal for Erin McMullan, and we just needed to get possession on attack to turn things around."
Yale (5-8, 2-4 Ivy League) finishes with a 4-2 mark at home this season. The Bulldogs visit No. 13 Cornell on Saturday.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity