CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The final score told only part of the story Saturday afternoon, as the Yale women's lacrosse team fell 14-13 at Harvard. The Bulldogs battled back from an early 7-2 deficit to put a major scare into their archrival -- and they did so despite having multiple starters sidelined.
Saturday's game was originally scheduled to be played at Jordan Field but was moved indoors to the Harvard Stadium Bubble, as frigid weather blasted the Boston area. At game time the temperature was 20 degrees, with the wind chill making it feel like 3 degrees. This was believed to be the first indoor game for Yale women's lacrosse.
Yale (3-2, 0-1 Ivy League) brought a three-game winning streak into the game, but injuries had already begun to mount. Four players who had started at least three games this year were out for this one, and the Bulldogs would wind up playing the game with only two subs coming in off the bench. Nonetheless, they appeared only to get stronger as the game wore on.
Harvard (2-1, 1-0 Ivy League) grabbed that early lead thanks to some hot shooting, as the Crimson connected on its first seven shots. Bulldog goals from sophomore attacker Izzy Nixon and sophomore midfielder Amanda Bosland kept things close -- but with the score 7-2 Harvard at 16:50 of the first, the game appeared to be in danger of getting out of hand for Yale.
But shortly after a timeout the Bulldogs regrouped and slowly began chipping away at the Crimson lead. Sophomore goalkeeper Allie Carrigan -- making her first career start and playing just her third career game -- jump-started the comeback by denying a Harvard free position attempt with 16:30 left in the half. The Bulldogs eventually followed up with a goal by senior attacker Hope Hanley that started a 6-0 run. Hanley had a pair of goals, as did junior attacker Kiwi Comizio, and Bosland and junior attacker Lily Smith scored as well. Comizio's tally at 4:53 off a Hanley assist gave Yale an 8-7 lead.
"Give credit to Harvard -- they are a great team and are very well coached. They came out strong," said Erica LaGrow, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Lacrosse. "But after the first 13 minutes we started to play Yale Lacrosse, and stuck to our game plan."
Harvard came back to tie the game 8-8, signaling the type of back-and-forth affair the game was to become. Comizio then set up Hanley for a Yale goal at 2:35, but a Bulldog turnover enabled Harvard to tie the game 9-9 heading into halftime.
Harvard made a change in goal for the second half, sending in Olivia Gundrum for Meredith Brown. The Crimson also clamped down defensively and allowed Yale only eight shots for the half, but the Bulldogs kept battling. After the Crimson went back ahead on a goal at 29:11, Yale scored the next two (Bosland and junior midfielder Madeleine Gramigna) to go ahead 11-10.
The Crimson then pieced together one more rally, which proved to be critical. A 3-0 Harvard run between 18:04 and 13:20 made the score 13-11, putting pressure on the Bulldogs to keep the game within reach. They did, as a caused turnover by senior defender Marisa Cresham helped set up a possession that ended with Bosland feeding Nixon for a goal that pulled Yale within one with 8:47 to play.
With the pressure mounting on each possession, Gundrum came up with a critical save on a Yale free position attempt, and Gramigna's attempt to flip in the rebound sailed just over the crossbar. Harvard would eventually follow up with another goal to go ahead 14-12 with 5:47 left.
Once again, the Bulldogs responded. After senior defender Emily Markham chased down the ensuing draw control, Hanley scored her fourth goal of the game and got Yale back within one with 4:56 to play.
Harvard got the next draw control, and while Carrigan came up with a huge save the Bulldogs lost possession. Carrigan then got low to deny another Harvard shot with 2:30 remaining, but the Crimson got the ground ball and began working the clock. After Carrigan stopped yet another Crimson shot with just over a minute to play, senior defender Victoria Moore got the ground ball. The Bulldogs called timeout, but lost the ball before they could set up in Harvard's defensive zone. That enabled Harvard to run out the game's final seconds with the ball deep in Yale's zone, putting a frustrating end to the Bulldogs' comeback attempt.
Carrigan finished with 12 saves, all on the last 19 shots she faced.
"With the support of the defensive unit, Allie played an incredible game in her first career start," said LaGrow.
Carrigan was one of many players called upon to step up for the short-handed Bulldogs, and the way the team responded to that adversity bodes well for the future. Bosland was making just her eighth career start, and she came away with a career-best four-point game (3-1-4). Nixon, who has started all five games this season after starting only once last year, continued to emerge as a force on the draw -- she had a game-high seven draw controls, helping the Bulldogs to an 18-11 advantage in the circle.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs also benefited from the contributions of a senior class intent on continuing the progress the team has made during their time at Yale. This was the fourth time in five games that Hanley (4-1-5) has scored at least five points. All six seniors started -- Cresham, Hanley, Markham, Moore, attacker Tess McEvoy and defender Ashley Perselay -- and merited recognition for the way the team responded after falling behind early.
"I credit our seniors for their on-field leadership," said LaGrow. "They helped make a positive change in this game. Overall, we are a team of 31 and everyone is playing a vital role. Our assistant coaches, Colleen [Smith] and Erika [Eipp], did a great job preparing our team, and they had them ready. While the final score was not what we wanted, we competed hard and made some positive strides."
The Bulldogs now look to carry the momentum from the hard-fought game into next Wednesday, when they face No. 8 Stony Brook at Reese Stadium.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity