NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Paying tribute to its seniors while also looking forward to its future, the Yale women's lacrosse team gave No. 10 Penn all it could handle Saturday afternoon at Reese Stadium before falling 14-11. All 10 of Yale's seniors started the game, while the first-year class accounted for six of the Bulldogs' 11 goals.
With the win, Penn (12-3, 6-1 Ivy League) earned a share of the Ivy League title (with No. 18 Princeton). Other than a loss to the Tigers this past Wednesday, the Quakers had taken care of all their other Ivy League opponents handily -- their five previous league wins had come by an average margin of more than eight goals. The Bulldogs made sure that was not the case on Saturday.
Yale's 10 seniors were honored before the game, then all started: attacker Kiwi Comizio, defender Emma Dunne, defender Taryn Gallagher, midfielder Madeleine Gramigna, midfielder Emily Granger, defender Cooper Hall, goalkeeper Sydney Marks, attacker Maggie Pizzo, attacker Katie Smith and attacker Lily Smith.
The Quakers then went on a run that proved critical, outscoring Yale (7-8, 2-5 Ivy League) 5-0 to end the half.
That stretch of more than 13 minutes without a goal proved costly for the Bulldogs. Once it was snapped -- by Granger scoring off a feed from first-year attacker Isabelle Webster at 27:11 of the second -- Yale went on to outscore Penn 8-6.
The Bulldogs never put together a run of more than two straight goals, however, enabling Penn to keep its lead relatively safe. After goals from sophomore midfielder Vanessa Yu and Pizzo pulled Yale within three with 21:58 left, Penn answered just over a minute later with a goal from attacker Emily Rogers-Healion.
Webster, playing just her second game, set up Higgins for another goal at 19:57, but Quakers goalie Mikaila Cheeseman bounced back with a point-blank save on Nixon and Rogers-Healion then extended the lead to 11-7 with 17:21 to play.
The Quakers called timeout after that goal, but Yale got two of the game's next three goals -- from Yu and first-year midfielder Olivia Markert -- to get within three with 12:06 to play.
Penn's superb freshman, Zoe Belodeau, had been relatively quiet for nearly 50 minutes, scoring just one goal. But she came up with a pair of critical goals late in the game -- her 34th and 35th of the season -- to make it 14-9 with 8:53 left.
Webster then showed even more signs of her ability to contribute offensively, tallying her first career goal. That pulled Yale within four with 5:38 to play, and Marks made a spectacular save on midfielder Elyse Decker to keep the game within reach. Webster scored again at 3:15 and Nixon got the draw control, but a turnover ended any chance of Yale getting closer.
Yale outshot Penn 31-30, and Marks finished with seven saves. The Bulldogs had a 20-7 advantage on the draw control, with 11 from Nixon and seven from Gramigna. Nixon finishes the season with an Ivy League record 130 draws.
With the win, Penn shares the Ivy League Championship with Princeton and enters the Ivy League Tournament as the No. 2 seed, playing No. 3 seed Dartmouth Friday. Princeton will host and play the No. 4 seed, Columbia.
Yale heads into next season buoyed by the signs of progress this past year, including a pair of wins vs. ranked teams and the first win vs. rival Harvard since 2010. The Bulldogs ultimately wound up just one win away from qualifying for the Ivy League Tournament, giving them something to shoot for next season.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (email@example.com), Yale Sports Publicity