PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Down 10-6 early in the second half at Brown Saturday afternoon, the Yale women's lacrosse team had little margin for error in attempting a comeback. But that did not faze these Bulldogs, who are rapidly developing a tendency towards strong second halves. All they did Saturday was shut out the Bears for the final 24:03 while scoring six unanswered goals, and the end result was a thrilling 12-10 come-from-behind victory. Hat tricks from junior attacker Kiwi Comizio and sophomore attacker Izzy Nixon proved crucial, and junior midfielder Emily Granger delivered the go-ahead goal with 9:57 to play.
"Today was definitely a challenge," said Erica LaGrow, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Lacrosse. "The senior leadership of Tess McEvoy and Hope Hanley helped us make some adjustments offensively. Our seniors on defense also helped us fight back. A win like this speaks volumes about our team chemistry. I am really proud of how we competed."
The first half was a frustrating one for Yale (5-3, 1-1 Ivy League). The Bulldogs got a pair of goals early, from junior midfielder Madeleine Gramigna and Comizio, but fell behind 4-2 after a three-goal run by Brown (3-4, 0-2 Ivy League). After McEvoy and Hanley scored with a Brown goal sandwiched in between, the Bulldogs trailed 5-4. But Brown again went on a 3-0 run, stopped only by a goal from Nixon that pulled Yale within 8-5. The Bears then capped off the half by scoring with only three seconds left.
But as has been the case often this season, the second half belonged to the Bulldogs. After a Brown goal was waved off due to an illegal pick, the Bulldogs scored the first goal of the half -- by Comizio, assisted by junior attacker Lily Smith.
Brown scored on a free position shot at 24:03 to get its lead back to four goals, but that would wind up being the Bears' only tally of the half.
Yale, meanwhile, got six goals from four different players to close out the game. Nixon started the run by slinging one in at 23:21 despite having the goggles knocked off her face amidst heavy traffic in front of the cage. Sophomore goalkeeper Allie Carrigan then delivered one of her biggest saves of the game, getting low to deny a free position shot by Brown attacker Emma DeGennaro with 21 minutes to play.
The Bulldog comeback kept going thanks to a goal that Granger bounced in at 15:34 to pull Yale within two. Carrigan's save on a high shot in transition by midfielder Zoe Verni 90 seconds later helped keep the deficit manageable.
Comizio finished off her hat trick with a goal at 12:47, prompting a Brown timeout. But Nixon then side armed in her third goal of the game, knotting the score 10-10 with 10:47 left -- and leading to a change in goal for the Bears, as Maggie Bigelow came in for Mikaela Karlsson. Karlsson had been ranked second in the NCAA in save percentage (.594) and fourth in goals-against average (6.97) entering the day, but allowed 10 goals while making just three saves against the Bulldogs.
Senior defender Victoria Moore got the next draw control, and on the crucial possession the Bulldogs turned to Granger again. She delivered the go-ahead goal at 9:57.
That was just the fifth goal of the season for Granger, who had been sidelined for three games before returning to the field in the 13-4 win at Niagara this past Monday. Nonetheless, she appears ready to be a significant part of the offense moving forward.
"Emily has such a quick dodge, and works really hard on that in practice," said LaGrow. "She really stepped up today."
Brown had another goal waved off with 8:24 to play due to a yellow card, and that enabled the Bulldogs to get a much-needed insurance goal from Smith with 7:34 left. Still, the final minutes proved to be nerve-wracking. A series of turnover by both teams -- four in a span of 42 seconds -- ended with an interception by senior defender Emily Markham that enabled the Bulldogs to run out the clock on the win.
Yale has now outscored its opponents 52-30 in the second half this season. In the last two games -- both wins -- the defense has allowed a total of two second-half goals and 18 second-half shots.
"We came in with a really strong game plan defensively," said LaGrow. "[Assistant coach] Colleen [Smith] did a great job preparing our players. We made a few in-game adjustments to limit Brown's opportunities."
In addition to scoring three goals, Nixon also helped limit Brown's opportunities by nabbing seven draw controls -- the second time in two weeks she has had that many in a game.
"Izzy works really hard with [assistant coach] Erika [Eipp] on the draws in practice, and has made that one of our strong points," said LaGrow. "She has stepped up both on the draw and on the offensive end."
In addition to seven different goal scorers, Yale got assists from four different players: two each from Hanley and McEvoy, one from Granger and one from Smith.
The Bulldogs got five saves from junior goalie Sydney Marks in the first half, and four saves from Carrigan in the second.
"Sometimes with goalies, giving an offense a different look is helpful," said LaGrow. "Allie and Syd complement each other nicely. Allie made some critical saves late that helped generate momentum. Syd started us off strong, and Allie did a tremendous job closing out the game."
The Bulldogs limited Brown's top two scorers, attacker/midfielder Hafsa Moinuddin and midfielder Carolyn Paletta, to three goals. They had combined for 27 in the team's first six games.
Paletta was held to just two shots, and one goal, by Moore.
"Victoria Moore did an excellent job on her, and played her really tough," said LaGrow.
The league win puts Yale right in the mix for one of the four spots in the Ivy League tournament, as there is only one team that is 2-0 in Ivy play. That is No. 11 Cornell, who also happens to be the Bulldogs' next opponent. The two teams square off next Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Reese Stadium.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity