Defense Limits Bryant to Three Goals in Second Half
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale women's lacrosse team has only been playing Bryant for three years, but the series has already had some memorable games. After winning by one goal in each of the first two meetings, Yale found itself locked in another battle with Bryant on Wednesday afternoon at Reese Stadium. The game ultimately hinged on a free position goal by freshman attacker Tess McEvoy with 9:07 to play that broke an 8-8 tie -- the fourth tie of the game. Yale then scored three goals in the final minutes to put away a 12-8 victory that keeps the team's record perfect, 4-0, to start the season.
"Bryant was fast, athletic and relentless," said Anne Phillips, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Lacrosse. "They came to take us down. The good news is we still found a way to win. We were not sharp in our execution at times, but we worked hard enough and were effective enough to get the victory."
Yale, off to its best start since the 2001 team started 8-0, faced a stiff challenge in Bryant, which had won three of its first four games and limited three of its first four opponents to seven goals. With Bryant jumping out to a 4-2 lead, the game had the makings of a tough day for the Yale offense early on. But the Bulldogs went on a four-goal run near the end of the first half, sparked by a pair of unassisted goals by sophomore attacker Nicole Daniggelis. Bryant got a goal 30 seconds before halftime -- snapping a span of nearly 16 minutes without a goal -- but Yale still took a 6-5 lead into the break.
Bryant quickly re-established momentum at the start of the second, taking slightly more than two minutes to score a pair of goals and go back ahead 7-6. But after that Yale gradually began to take control. First, Daniggelis buried a perfect pass from senior attacker Jen DeVito to tie the score with 25:19 to play. Then, senior goalkeeper Erin McMullan denied a point-blank shot by midfielder Shannon Burns for her first save of the day. Down at the other end, McEvoy drove and placed a shot perfectly to the non-stick side of Bryant goalie Brianna Watt, firing it just past Watt's midsection to give Yale the lead.
After Bryant tied the game, freshman defender Emily Markham grabbed a critical ground ball in the midfield and McEvoy drew a foul in the 8-meter arc. She then drove in for the free position goal that put Yale up 9-8, giving McEvoy her first career hat trick.
"We tweaked Tess' eight-meter shot in the last couple of days," said Phillips. "She's a very skilled attacker and is starting to find her groove, which is huge for us. She has been reliable and composed throughout the season. Today, we needed her to have a breakout game, and she did."
The next few minutes saw great opportunities for both teams, as Yale sent a pair of free position shots wide and McMullan deflected away a shot by attacker Haley Bloom that came right in on her hands. Finally, with 2:17 to play, junior midfielder Erin Magnuson drove in and tucked a shot inside the upper right corner of the goal to give Yale some breathing room at 10-8.
"As a junior, Erin has been in some big games," said Phillips. "She's done a great job with her fakes and her shots. She's very composed, and I was really confident with the ball in her stick. If you take that shot, you've got to make that shot, and she did. That gave us a much-needed cushion."
McMullan still had to make one more huge save though, as a turnover by Yale led to Bryant attacker Lauren Descalzo earning a free position attempt with less than 50 seconds to play. Descalzo tried shooting high but McMullan corralled the shot. Junior attacker Kerri Fleishhacker then tacked on a pair of goals in the final 20 seconds to make the final 12-8.
McMullan made six saves, all in the second half. This marked the fourth time in four games that Yale has held its opponent to eight or fewer goals. Watt made four saves for Bryant.
"Our defense played well," said Phillips. "Erin has been our backbone, and when she struggled early on today they picked her up. She then played much better in the second half and made some big saves."
Three Yale defenders -- sophomore Flannery Carney, freshman Victoria Moore and sophomore Kate Walker -- finished with a team-high three caused turnovers each. Senior defender Adrienne Tarver had three ground balls.
Daniggelis led Yale's attack with four points (3-1-4) and nine draw controls. Fleishhacker and McEvoy had three goals each, while DeVito, Magnuson and senior attacker Meghan Murray had one each. DeVito had a pair of assists.
Yale returns to action on Friday at Reese Stadium, hosting Quinnipiac at 4:00 p.m.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity