No. 19 Dartmouth Avoids Yale's Upset Bid, 8-6

No. 19 Dartmouth Avoids Yale's Upset Bid, 8-6

March 22, 2009

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - No. 19 Dartmouth's offense was on a roll coming into Sunday's game against Yale at Reese Stadium, averaging nearly 12 goals per game and featuring five players with seven or more goals on the season. The upset-minded Bulldogs were able to control the tempo for much of the afternoon, holding the Big Green to a season-low eight goals. But after junior attacker Jessica Sturgill scored to tie the game 4-4 early in the second half, Dartmouth went on a three-goal run that ultimately proved decisive. The Big Green came away with an 8-6 win.

Dartmouth had played three nationally ranked teams in its last four games and put up double-digit goal totals against each of them, but the Big Green was unable to do so against Yale. Freshman goalkeeper Whitney Quackenbush delivered nine saves to help keep her team in the game, and she anchored another strong showing by the defenders in front of her.

"Our defense played extremely well again, and Whitney played very, very well," said Anne Phillips, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Lacrosse. "She has really come along and, even though she's a freshman, is playing at a really high level for us."

Injuries have been an issue for Yale all season long, with five players missing significant chunks of the season to date. On Sunday, illness became a factor as well with junior defender Claire Eliasberg playing more than 40 minutes despite being under the weather.

"Claire was sick all night and dehydrated," said Phillips. "If we could have gotten by without her we would have, but we can't. She's a critical part of our defense. She not only gutted this one out and played, but she played well, and that helped us play well defensively as a team. She got the game ball."

Dartmouth (3-3, 1-0 Ivy League) caught Yale on the opening draw, as attacker Katherine Chiusano scored 13 seconds into the game. But after that the Bulldogs were able to slow down Dartmouth's attempts at a transition attack. Big Green attacker Kat Collins extended the lead to 2-0 on a free position shot, but junior midfielder/defender Natalie Reid answered that goal 46 seconds later by putting home a feed from junior attacker Jenna Block.

It was the second goal in as many games for Reid, who scored her first career goal Wednesday against BU.

"Natalie Reid has been playing really well in the midfield for us," said Phillips. "She's a leader and a vocal presence in transition, and that has really helped us."

A Yale turnover allowed Collins to extend the lead to 3-1, but the Bulldogs once again answered with Block quarterbacking the offense. She came around from behind the goal to Dartmouth goalkeeper Julie Wadland's left, drew the attention of the defense and then fed the ball across to junior attacker Jessica Sturgill for a goal at 14:13.

Quackenbush came up with two big saves in a two-minute span later in the half, denying golden opportunities for Collins and midfielder Eliza Bennett, but another Yale turnover led to Dartmouth's fourth goal as attacker Sarah Parks fed Bennett for the tally.

Wadland made two of her nine saves for the game on Sturgill and senior midfielder Jenn Warden in a span of 90 seconds later in the second half. But after an extended possession for the Bulldogs, Warden came through with another unassisted goal to get Yale within 4-3 heading into halftime. Quackenbush added a save on a free position shot by Parks with 90 seconds left.

Sturgill and Block teamed up for another goal near the start of the second half. That was part of a two-goal day for Sturgill and a three-assist day for Block. Sturgill is up to 13 goals and 17 points on the season, two shy of her totals from all of last season in those categories. With seven goals, eight assists and 15 points, Block has already equaled or surpassed her totals from last year in each of those categories.

"They're working well together," said Phillips. "Jenn [Warden] always draws the double-teams and ends up taking on the other team's top defender. It's nice that some other players are stepping up, and Jenn was still able to score two goals. I like how that's developing."

But a six-minute span shortly after the Sturgill goal saw Dartmouth score three times to re-take control of the game, including a pair of free position goals (from midfielder Greta Meyer and Collins) and a goal from midfielder Sarah Plumb.

Quackenbush denied a free position shot by Meyer with just over 13 minutes to play, but the next Yale possession ended with a yellow card against the Bulldogs. Quackenbush was able to come up with a save on Bennett, and the Bulldogs did not miss out on their next opportunity to score. Senior midfielder Taylor Fragapane drew a foul and buried the free position shot to bring Yale with 7-5 with 9:04 left, prompting a Dartmouth timeout. Fragapane got the draw control after the timeout, but a turnover cost the Bulldogs a chance to draw closer. Meyer's free position goal with 7:09 left made it 8-5.

A goal by Warden 44 seconds later pulled Yale within two, but the Bulldogs would get no closer. Wadland made a nice save on Sturgill off a Block feed with 2:30 to play. And on a day where Yale was called for 30 fouls and Dartmouth just 17 -- along with a 10-2 edge in free position shots for the Big Green -- one of the most costly whistles against the Bulldogs was a charging call with a minute to play that ended a key possession. After that Yale was no longer able to mount any threats, and Dartmouth celebrated its first win over the Bulldogs in four years.

"Offensively, we had our opportunities," said Phillips. "Our strategies are working, we just have to finish. It's coming. We feel the players are developing and moving in the right direction."

Yale (2-6, 0-2 Ivy League) plays at Harvard next Saturday at 1:00 p.m.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity