Comeback Attempt Comes Up Short; Bulldogs Fall 10-7 at No. 19 JMU

Feb. 28, 2009

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The first two games of the season have shown one thing clearly: Yale can make a comeback. But whereas the Bulldogs were able to rally from a four-goal deficit to win 11-10 in overtime at Fairfield Wednesday, their rally at No. 19 James Madison Saturday was not as successful. The Bulldogs outscored the Dukes 6-2 in a 13-minute span in the second half, but by then JMU had run up an 8-1 lead. After Yale got within three with 5:26 to play on the third goal of the game from senior midfielder Jenn Warden, JMU held on for the 10-7 win.

Yale gave up the first four goals of the game Wednesday at Fairfield before rallying to beat the Stags, and on Saturday JMU scored the first six goals before Warden got the Bulldogs on the board at 3:21 of the first half. JMU (2-0) tacked on one more goal to go into halftime up 7-1, having outshot Yale 12-4 and taken seven of the nine draw controls.

"It wasn't that we were playing poorly on defense, but you're going to give up goals if you give a team that many opportunities," said Anne Phillips, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Lacrosse. "We struggled to clear the ball and we weren't patient on attack. We allowed JMU to control the tempo and couldn't get draw controls after they scored."

But the Bulldogs adjusted at halftime, and Warden came away with the opening draw control of the second half. She got a shot off, but JMU goalie Alex Menghetti was able to make the save. The Bulldogs also had a goal waved off for a crease violation with 26 minutes left, and right after that Kim Griffin scored to put JMU up 8-1.

Yale was also hit with two yellow cards in a span of 20 seconds shortly after the JMU goal. Once they were done playing short-handed, the Bulldogs began rallying. Junior attacker Jenna Block's unassisted goal at 18:24 started the run. Block would finish with her second multiple-point game in a row, and she currently leads the team in point (4-3-7).

"Jenna Block did a great job driving from behind the cage," said Phillips. "She really jump-started the attack. When she drove the crease, that started to break them from the back. It opened things up for other players up top. She deserves a lot of credit."

Junior attacker Jessica Sturgill kept Yale's momentum going with an unassisted goal 73 seconds after Block scored. When Warden scored on a free-position shot with 15:57 left, the Dukes called timeout and pulled Menghetti (four saves) in favor of Morgan Kelly.

The Bulldogs got the defensive stop they needed after the timeout, but down at the other end of the field the JMU defense collapsed on Block as she tried to put home a feed from senior midfielder Taylor Fragapane. Ninety seconds later, Ashley Kimener put the Dukes back up by five.

Yale responded immediately to the JMU goal. Junior midfielder Sarah David, who had gotten the draw control, bounced home a feed from Sturgill right in front of the cage. It was David's first career goal.

"Sarah has been working hard all season and has really stepped up," said Phillips. "She's had some key ground balls and draw controls in the first two games. Like Taylor [Fragapane], she's one of those players who does a lot of the dirty work and doesn't always get the credit. She has become an important piece of the attack."

Griffin extended JMU's lead to 10-5 with 8:29 to play, but the Bulldogs kept battling. A minute later sophomore goalkeeper Katie Janian, who had come on in relief of freshman Whitney Quackenbush in the first half, came up with a big save on Griffin to keep Yale within five. That eventually enabled Block to set up freshman attacker Kerry Hamill for a goal that made the score 10-6 with six minutes remaining.

Hamill was the fifth different Bulldog to get involved in the scoring Saturday, the second straight game that five different players have had points for Yale.

"That's the design of the offense," said Phillips. "We're designed to get seven attackers involved, not just one. We're always looking to distribute the ball to the best scoring opportunity. It doesn't matter who scores, just that we score."

Warden got Yale within three on a free-position goal with 5:26 to play. A minute later the Bulldogs caught a tough break when Fragapane hit the post with a shot, and JMU came away with the ground ball. Junior defender Michele Fiorentino was able to create a turnover in Yale's defensive end, but the Bulldogs lost the ball at the other end of the field as the game entered its final minutes. They were unable to get possession until there was only a minute left, not enough time for them to complete their comeback.

Yale travels to New Hampshire Wednesday for a 3:00 p.m. game.

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