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Bulldogs Shut Down Niagara, 13-4

Victoria Moore. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Victoria Moore. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NIAGARA UNIV., N.Y. – The top offense in the MAAC was no match for the Yale women's lacrosse team Monday afternoon, as the Bulldogs cruised past Niagara 13-4. Operating in frigid, snowy conditions, Yale broke open a 3-3 game by outscoring the Purple Eagles 10-1 over the final 37:46. That was a season low in goals for Niagara, which had been averaging more than 13 goals per game entering the day. Junior goalkeeper Sydney Marks made eight saves and senior attacker Tess McEvoy led Yale with five goals.

"The defense had an outstanding game," said Erica LaGrow, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Lacrosse. "They played as a unit. [Assistant coach] Colleen Smith did a great job getting them ready, and they were very well prepared."

Monday's game time was moved from 2:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m. to account for the weather. Temperatures were in the 20s and there were snow flurries throughout the game, with a major storm forecast to hit the Northeast by Tuesday. Yale (4-3, 0-1 Ivy League) got off to a relatively slow start, as a goal by Niagara midfielder Alexis Morales tied the game 3-3 at 7:46 of the first.

But that would wind up being the last Purple Eagles goal for more than 35 minutes. The Yale offense, meanwhile, began clicking -- sparked by the defense. After junior defender Cooper Hall caused a turnover and senior defender Ashley Perselay got the ground ball, senior defender Victoria Moore finished off the clear by scoring at 5:07. That was her first career goal, and part of a day where Yale went 22-for-23 on clears.

McEvoy then followed up with two goals to give the Bulldogs momentum into halftime. One of them came when she was fouled right before time expired in the half; on the restart she only had time to fire one from long distance, but she still snuck it past Niagara keeper Andrea Francisco.

The second half was all Yale. Marks started it off by denying attacker Rachel MacCheyne from right in front of the cage -- and by the time the Purple Eagles got another shot on goal, the score was 10-3 Bulldogs. Sophomore attacker Izzy Nixon started Yale's second-half surge by slinging in two goals in a span of five minutes. That was part of a stretch where the Blue scored four times in less than six minutes, with junior midfielders Madeleine Gramigna and Emily Granger also scoring.

Niagara (3-3, 0-0 MAAC) called timeout down 10-3 with 21:43 to play, having already switched goalies (after Yale's ninth goal). The Purple Eagles were then able to slow down Yale's offense, but could not get anything going against the Bulldog defense. Neither team scored until the 4:34 mark, when McEvoy's free position tally made it 11-3. She and Nixon added one more goal each, while MacCheyne ended Niagara's scoreless stretch with a goal at 2:20.

MacCheyne and Morales had combined for 34 goals in the Purple Eagles' first five games, but totaled just two (on 15 shots) Monday. Attacker Grace Hunt, who had been leading the nation in assists per game (3.4), got none against the Bulldogs.

"Within our defensive unit, Victoria Moore stood out," said LaGrow. "She made several hustle plays all over the field, in addition to scoring her first career goal. Sydney Marks played a great game in goal, helping create opportunities with the stops she made. And Izzy and Tess stepped up offensively."

McEvoy finished with five goals, the third time this season she has scored five in a game. She also had a game-high four ground balls, helping Yale to a decisive 22-9 advantage in that category. She and Moore had three caused turnovers each. Nixon scored four goals and had five draw controls. Granger had two goals and Gramigna and Moore finished with one each. Senior attacker Hope Hanley had a pair of assists.

This was the third time in the last six games Yale has held an opponent to four or fewer goals. Also encouraging for the Bulldogs was the return to the lineup of Granger, who had been out for three straight games.

Yale resumes Ivy League play next, traveling to Brown for a 4:00 p.m. game this Saturday.

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