NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale women's lacrosse team will be relatively young in 2019 -- there are only three seniors on the roster. And as the Bulldogs seek to replace nine starters from last year's team, they will certainly need some new names to emerge as impact players. A talented core of returnees led by senior attacker Izzy Nixon (Greenwich, Conn.) -- the team captain and holder of the school record for draw controls -- gives the team reason for optimism heading into its 44th varsity season.
This is Yale's fourth season with Erica Bamford as the team's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Lacrosse. Colleen Smith returns for her third season as an assistant, and Molly Hulseman enters her second season.
Here is a position-by-position look at the team heading into the season, which starts Saturday at Albany:
7 players (2 seniors, 1 junior, 1 sophomore, 3 first years)
2 returning starters with 8 or more starts in 2018: Nixon, Zinsner
Senior attacker Izzy Nixon leads the Bulldogs in more ways than one. Elected captain by her teammates, Nixon is coming off a season in which she led the Ivy League in draw controls per game (8.67), setting the Yale draw control record (130). A second team All-Region and second team All-Ivy pick, Nixon had 18 goals and seven assists to finish third on the team in points with 25. Classmate Addie Zinsner bounced back from an injury-plagued 2017 season to appear in all 15 games last year, starting eight. She scored 13 goals.
Junior Devon Doheny brings four games of experience into the 2019 season. Sophomore Isabelle Webster ended last season on a high note, scoring two goals and adding two assists in the season finale -- her second game of the year.
A trio of first-years looks to make an impact on attack. Rachel Anderson (Baltimore, Md.) was part of a McDonogh team that was ranked No. 1 all four years of her career, winning three IAAM championships and extending its winning streak to 198 games. Anna Bowers (Sandy Spring, Md.) captained Our Lady of Good Counsel and was a three-time All-WCAC pick. Olivia Penoyer (Manlius, N.Y.) is a two-time All-American who was a CNY player of the year nominee last season at Christian Brothers Academy.
12 players (0 seniors, 4 juniors, 4 sophomores, 4 first years)
1 returner with 8 or more starts in 2018: Higgins
A relatively young group of midfielders -- there are no seniors -- could prove critical to Yale's success this season.
The four junior midfielders bring a wide range of skills. Megan Gorman joined the team at the end of women's basketball season last year. Her rebounding skills on the court figure to translate to the field, where she may be particularly helpful on draw controls. Lindsay Hogan, limited by injury early in her career, has four games of experience. She (6'0") and Gorman (6'1") are the two tallest Bulldogs. Hannah Logan made the first two starts of her career last season. Vanesa Yu took a big step forward as a sophomore, appearing in all 15 games and starting three. She tallied eight goals.
The Bulldogs have four sophomore middies, though an injury has sidelined Amanda Hartzell. Sam Higgins made an impact last season, appearing in all 15 games and starting nine. She was fifth on the team in ground balls with 18 and seventh in goals with 14. Colleen Huffman, a US Lacrosse All-American in high school, looks for her first Yale minutes this year. Olivia Markert returns after finishing third on the team in goals with 21. Her .528 shooting percentage was best among all Bulldogs with more than 25 shots.
The first-year midfielder group includes Kenya Boston (Baltimore, Md.), Emily Clorite (Madison, Conn.), Jill Gollob (McLean, Va.) and Payton Vaughn (Concord, Mass.). Boston led her Park School team with a career-high 66 goals last year and finished with 150 career ground balls. Clorite, who also plays soccer at Yale, was a US Lacrosse All-American at Choate Rosemary Hall. Gollob was a four-year starter and two-year captain at Georgetown Visitation, leading the team to an ISL championship in 2018. Vaughn is a two-time US Lacrosse All-American.
10 players (1 senior, 4 juniors, 2 sophomores, 3 first years)
1 returner with 8 or more starts in 2018: Stover
The lone senior defender for the Bulldogs, Keri Cavallo, joined the lacrosse team as a sophomore, having played soccer for Yale since her first year. She has appeared in four games over the past two lacrosse seasons.
The junior class includes four defenders. Hannah Burgess looks to earn some valuable minutes in her third season, having appeared in four games for her career. Bronwyn Davies joined the team last season once women's basketball season ended -- she has played basketball for three seasons now. In high school she played in multiple Division 2 Girls Lacrosse playoffs. Margaret Stover emerged as a starter last year, leading the team in caused turnovers (20) and tying for the team lead in ground balls (26). Julia Watt made four starts last year, totaling eight ground balls and four caused turnovers. A pair of sophomores, Kelsey Dunn and Emma Reilly, will look for their first minutes this season.
Three first-year defenders will look to earn playing time. Ali Anderson (Syracuse, N.Y.) was a three-year starter at Christian Brothers Academy, earning first-team all-league twice while helping her team to a pair of Class A state championships. Shannon Coughlan (Setauket, N.Y.) was All-Suffolk County Class A at Ward Melville, earning her school's female scholar-athlete of the year award. Zoe Durham (Dallas, Texas) was a US Lacrosse All-American at Highland Park, captaining the school's first team to advance to the state tournament and reach the semifinals.
2 players (0 seniors, 0 juniors, 1 sophomore, 1 first year)
0 returners with 8 or more starts in 2018
With the graduation of Sydney Marks '18 -- who started all but one game for the last three years -- Yale is looking for new leaders in between the pipes. With one righty goalie and one lefty goalie, the Bulldogs can give opponents dramatically different looks.
Sophomore Amelia Drake has a year of learning the ropes under Marks. She was a second team all-league selection in high school after setting her school's records for career saves and wins. First year Clare Boone (Stewartstown, Pa.) captained her St. Paul's School team and was a US Lacrosse All-American for the Pennsylvania Chapter in 2015 and 2016.
Yale opens the 2019 season Saturday at Albany. The 2019 slate includes five teams ranked in the IWLCA preseason poll -- including No. 1 Boston College.
Yale's 15 regular-season games include seven Ivy League games and eight non-league games. This is the 10th year for the Ivy League women's lacrosse tournament, in which the top four teams in the final standings play for the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Ivy tournament takes place at Columbia this year.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity