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Big Games from Higgins, Nixon, Penoyer Lead Yale Past Niagara

Olivia Penoyer (26) scores. (photo by Steve Musco, muscosportsphotos.com)
Olivia Penoyer (26) scores. (photo by Steve Musco, muscosportsphotos.com)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – There were plenty of big numbers posted by the Yale women's lacrosse team Thursday afternoon at Reese Stadium against Niagara -- starting with the score, a 17-10 win. Behind that result were several standout individual performances, including 18 draw controls from senior attacker Izzy Nixon (one shy of the Ivy League record), eight points from first-year attacker Olivia Penoyer (5-3-8) and an eight-caused turnover/eight-ground ball day from sophomore midfielder Sam Higgins.

Thursday's start time was moved up three hours to avoid some of the frigid weather, and the first 20+ minutes wound up being a back-and-forth affair. Yale (3-2, 0-0 Ivy League) jumped out to a 5-3 lead, but Niagara (3-2, 0-0 MAAC) eventually tied the game 5-5 with seven minutes left in the first half. That set up one of the Bulldogs' decisive runs, as they outscored the Purple Eagles 5-0 to head into halftime up 10-5. Penoyer accounted for two of those goals.

After Niagara closed within 11-7 early in the second half the Bulldogs went on another run. This time it was fueled by defense, as they did not allow a Niagara goal for more than 13 minutes. Two tallies by sophomore midfielder Olivia Markert and one by Penoyer in that span helped increase the lead to 14-7.

First-year goalkeeper Clare Boone made five saves in the second half to help keep the Purple Eagles at bay. She came on after sophomore Amelia Drake played the first 30 minutes, making one save.

The duel between Nixon and Niagara attacker Rachel MacCheyne -- who entered the day 1-2 in the nation in draw controls per game -- wound up being a big part of the game. MacCheyne held her own with 11 draw controls, but Nixon once again came up with a dominant effort. She finished one shy of the Ivy League record (19), which she had tied just over a week ago against Hartford.

Penoyer was one of five Bulldogs with multiple points, joined by Markert (4-0-4), first-year midfielder Jill Gollob (2-1-3), first-year midfielder Payton Vaughn (2-1-3) and senior attacker Addie Zinsner (2-0-2). Higgins and first-year attacker Rachel Anderson also scored goals for the Bulldogs.

Higgins was also a big part of Yale's defensive efforts, which included a total of 21 caused turnovers. Yale limited Niagara to a 14-for-26 performance on clears. Sophomore attacker Isabelle Webster added four ground balls, helping Yale to a 26-17 advantage in that category.

The Bulldogs host another MAAC team, Canisius, on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

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