Yale Caps Hurricane Sandy Fundraiser with 13-12 Win Over Columbia

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Erin McMullan. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Four Goals, 12 Draw Controls for Daniggelis

OCEANSIDE, N.Y. – Lacrosse fans came out to Oceanside (N.Y.) High School to support a great cause on Saturday afternoon. They would up seeing a great game as well, as the Yale women's team held off a late charge by Columbia for a 13-12 win to cap the "Lax Loves LI" fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy relief.

Yale led by as many as four goals in the first half, and five goals in the second half, before having to hold off a Columbia rally at the end. A crowd of 570 was on hand for the event, which included another college game (between Molly and Southern New Hampshire) earlier in the day along with music and other festivities.

"The reason why we played this game here was for the Oceanside Community, which was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy," said Anne Phillips, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Lacrosse. "The whole point was to raise money, and from what we've heard it was very successful in that regard. It was a win for us, and a win for Oceanside's community."

With 13 players on the Yale roster hailing from New York, the Bulldogs certainly knew the larger significance in playing to help Oceanside Community Service and Island Harvest with relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. But they also knew that a crucial league win was at stake. The victory keeps Yale in contention for one of the Ancient Eight's four playoff spots.

Yale (7-5, 1-4 Ivy League) was plagued by turnovers in the early going -- eight in the first half. That enabled Columbia to jump out to a 3-1 lead in the first nine minutes. The Bulldogs' lone goal in that span came from sophomore attacker Kerri Fleishhacker.

Yale survived those early struggles in part due to dominance on the draw control, where the Bulldogs won 13 of 17 in the first half. That eventually helped them build a lead once the attack started clicking. Freshman midfielder Nicole Daniggelis, who won 12 draws for the game, started a 7-1 run for the Bulldogs by scoring on a free position shot at 20:45. She then grabbed the draw control, raced down the field and scored again 11 seconds later to tie the game 3-3.

Following a caused turnover by freshman defender Kate Walker, Daniggelis scored again by curling around from behind the cage and stuffing in a low shot to give the Bulldogs their first lead, 4-3 at 16:49.

After sophomore midfielder Christina Doherty scored off an assist by sophomore midfielder Cathryn Avallone to extend the lead to 5-3, Columbia momentarily interrupted the run with a goal by midfielder Paige Cuscovitch. Doherty responded immediately by causing a turnover in the midfield, then racing in on a breakaway to score again.

After a Columbia timeout, Fleishhacker scored a pair of goals in 16 seconds to make the score 8-4 Yale with 8:48 left in the half.

Columbia (2-10, 0-6 Ivy League) put together a 3-1 run to enter halftime within two of the Bulldogs, 9-7. Yale's goal came from senior attacker Devon Rhodes on a free position. Rhodes then started the second-half scoring with a free position goal.

Yale junior goalkeeper Erin McMullan made a big save on Columbia midfielder Katie Angulo, one of six saves on the day for her, but attacker Kacie Johnson scored to pull Columbia back within two with 24:06 to play.

The Bulldogs then ripped off a three-goal run to extend their lead. Avallone started it by scoring on a free position after an off-ball foul on the Lions. Rhodes then fired in a low shot, and Daniggelis scored on a free position to make it 13-8 with 19:45 to play.

After that the Bulldogs just had to hang on for the victory. Columbia got goals from attacker Sarah Greenberg and Johnson to get within three with 17:32 left. McMullan came up with a big save to deny Johnson on a breakaway, but Greenberg scored again to make it 13-11 with 9:50 left.

The two goalies then traded big saves, with Columbia's Colleen Packer denying junior attacker Jen DeVito but McMullan answering with a stop on Johnson with four minutes to play. After that, the Bulldogs chewed up some clock with help from a yellow card on the Lions.

But a Bulldog turnover deep in Columbia territory made the final 90 seconds interesting. Johnson hit the post with a shot, her final scoring chance of the game.

Johnson, the leading scorer in the Ivy League entering the day, scored four times but was kept from being a bigger factor by Walker.

"Kate Walker did a great job on Kacie Johnson," said Phillips. "For a freshman, it was asking a lot to have her defend a player like that and make it difficult for her to score, but she did it."

But after Johnson hit the post the Lions maintained possession, and Cuscovitch drew a free position shot. She scored to pull Columbia within one with 24 seconds left.

After a timeout, Daniggelis lined up in the center circle to take the crucial draw control. The ball flew back towards the Yale end of the field, where junior defender Adrienne Tarver emerged from a pack of Lions with it -- drawing a foul in the process. That enabled the Bulldogs to run off the final seconds of the game.

"In the timeout right before that draw, we told the players that we had to have it," said Phillips. "That was a huge, pressure draw control. Ultimately that was the possession that determined the game."

Daniggelis (four goals), Fleishhacker (three) and Rhodes (three) -- all Long Island natives -- were Yale's top goal scorers.

Yale hosts Cornell next Saturday.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity