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Hot Start Gets Yale a 9-6 Win vs. Columbia on Senior Day

Yale celebrates a goal. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Yale celebrates a goal. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Seven Different Players Score Goals

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale women's lacrosse team started all nine seniors Saturday against Columbia on Senior Day at Reese Stadium, and thanks in part to them the Bulldogs jumped out to an 8-2 lead. That provided more than enough of a cushion to withstand a late Columbia rally, as the Bulldogs came away with a 9-6 win that moved them within one game of the two teams tied for third place in the Ivy League standings with two games left.

Yale (8-5, 2-3 Ivy League) was buoyed by a dominant start to the game, including a stretch of 27:20 in which Columbia did not score a goal. The nine seniors who started the game -- attacker Jen DeVito, midfielder Ashley McCormick, goalkeeper Erin McMullan, midfielder Julie Mongan, attacker Meghan Murray, defender Kallie Parchman, midfielder Courteney Rutter, defender Katherine Sherrill and defender Adrienne Tarver -- played key roles as the Bulldogs took an early 5-0 lead. That wound up proving crucial on a day where Columbia was determined to play spoiler.

"Senior Day is always an emotional day to play," said Anne Phillips, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Lacrosse. "The seniors all deserved the opportunity to start. In the Ivy League there are no easy games, and their experience is something that can't be taught. They've been in tight games before, and they brought us composure."

Columbia got the game's first possession, and while the Lions controlled the ball for more than five minutes they had trouble getting off any good shots against Yale's defense. After shooting wide twice, Columbia sent a shot off the cross bar and McCormick scooped up the ground ball. Junior midfielder Christina Doherty then quickly drove to goal, earned a free position shot, and buried it to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead at 23:50.

Sophomore attacker Nicole Daniggelis earned a free position attempt at the 22:51 mark but -- in keeping with the Senior Day theme -- instead of shooting opted to pass to Murray, who was wide open in front of the goal and scored with ease. Daniggelis later fed DeVito for a goal that made it 3-0 at 10:48, and two minutes later -- shortly after a Columbia timeout and a yellow card on the Lions --DeVito scored again on a free position shot.

Later in the half, junior midfielder Cathryn Avallone curled around from behind the cage and slipped in one more goal to make the score 5-0 Bulldogs. Columbia finally broke up the shutout on a free position goal by midfielder Taylor Quinn with 2:40 left in the half.

The Bulldogs extended the lead to 7-1 on a pair of goals in the first minute of the second half, both coming after draw control wins by Daniggelis. Junior attacker Kerri Fleishhacker set up junior midfielder Erin Magnuson for the first one, and Fleishhacker then scored off a DeVito assist 35 seconds later.

Columbia (3-7, 0-5 Ivy League) -- which has now lost four games by three or fewer goals -- started to rally when leading scorer Paige Cuscovitch jump-started a 4-1 run with a free position goal at the 27:38 mark. After Magnuson scored on a free position at 27:20, the Lions scored three straight -- including a goal at 23:23 by Cuscovitch that represented Columbia's first goal of the game from the field.

"The eight-meter shots really hurt us," said Phillips. "This was a tough matchup for us in that regard, because there were a lot of fouls called on us. Columbia got a little momentum, but we eventually used our passing ability and ball control to ensure the win."

DeVito fed a wide-open Daniggelis to bring Yale's lead to 9-5 with 12:50 to play, but a yellow card left the Bulldogs briefly down a man with 11:36 left. But after Columbia sent one free position attempt wide, McMullan came up with one of her biggest saves of the day, going low to deny a free position attempt by Quinn. Doherty got the ground ball, enabling the Bulldogs to kill off the penalty without any further Columbia threats.

Quinn scored in transition after a Yale turnover with 6:20 left, bringing the Lions within three. After a timeout by Yale, McMullan delivered another huge save -- this one on defender Ashley Rinere -- and got the ground ball, enabling the Bulldogs to take some valuable time off the clock.

Columbia got the ball back after a save on a Yale free position shot, but McMullan reacted quickly to deny a high shot attempt from point-blank range by Cuscovitch with four minutes remaining. McMullan grabbed the loose ball out of the air, and after a timeout the Bulldogs cleared the ball and took some more time off the clock after freshman Tess McEvoy scooped up a pass that was partially deflected and almost resulted in a turnover.

A late Bulldog turnover gave the ball back to Columbia, but the Lions turned it right back over to Yale – one of three failed clears in the second half for them. There was one more Yale turnover that gave the ball back to Columbia in the final minute, but Tarver grabbed the ground ball after an errant Columbia pass and the final seconds ticked off with the ball in her possession. That was a fitting way to end Senior Day, as Yale's captain now has sole possession of second place on the school's all-time ground balls list with 99 (trailing only Jenn Warden '09, 136).

Led by three ground balls from McMullan, Yale won the ground ball battle 18-13. The Bulldogs outshot the Lions 25-23, and McMullan finished with eight saves. Doherty had three of Yale's four caused turnovers for the game.

As a team the Bulldogs now find themselves with some milestones within reach. Two more wins would give Yale its first 10-win season since 2008, and the sixth double-digit win season in school history. Additionally, the Bulldogs are still in contention for one of the four spots in the Ivy League Tournament -- and appearing in that tournament would mark a first for Yale. The winner of the Ivy League Tournament earns an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament; Yale has three NCAA Tournament appearances in its history (1984, 2003 and 2007).

Yale plays again at Cornell next Saturday at 3:00 p.m.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity