Bulldogs Battle Crimson at Reese
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale-Harvard women’s lacrosse rivalry dates all the way back to when the Bulldogs were a club team in the late 1970s, and since going varsity in 1976 Yale is 18-18-1 all-time against the Crimson. The Bulldogs enjoyed an 11-game winning streak in the series until recently, with the teams splitting their last four meetings. In addition to the rivalry factor, Saturday’s 11 a.m. start at Reese Stadium also has plenty of other storylines. It is Alumnae Day, and the matchup has Ivy League Tournament implications.
Each of these teams has two losses in league play, and there are only four spots available in the inaugural Ivy League Women’s Lacrosse Tournament coming up in four weeks. The impact of Saturday’s game on each team’s chances in that tournament can be underscored by a look back at the last 10 years’ worth of standings. Only once in that span has a team with three or more losses in league play finished better than fourth. That same year, 2005, there was a three-way tie for third in the league (Cornell, Penn and Yale all finished 4-3), so by the current rules one of those teams would have wound up not making the playoffs. Having three league losses clearly puts a team in a tough spot as far as trying to earn the Ivies’ automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, so that should add to the intensity of Saturday’s game.
Yale (4-6, 1-2 Ivy League) has dropped two in a row after an upset of then-No. 13 BU on the road Mar. 24. The Bulldogs have been hurt by making 38 turnovers in those two games, and they have also lost 29 of 43 draw controls.
The Bulldogs have been getting increased scoring, and the 25 goals they have scored in the past three games makes that the best three-game stretch of the year for them. Senior attacker Jenna Block (Owings Mills, Md.) has 10 points in that span, including five goals and five assists. She scored a pair of goals against the Crimson last year in Cambridge.
Junior midfielder/defender Kaitlyn Flatley (Berwyn, Pa.) has scored two or more goals in five straight games. She is second on the team in goals with 14, trailing only freshman midfielder Devon Rhodes (East Northport, N.Y.), who has 16. Senior attacker Jessica Sturgill (Ellicott City, Md.) has 10.
Flatley has the team lead in caused turnovers with 14, followed by senior defender Michele Fiorentino (Berwyn, Pa.) with nine. Fielding Kidd (Atlanta, Ga.), who had three ground balls against Harvard last year, is tied for third on the Bulldogs in caused turnovers with senior defender Claire Eliasberg (La Jolla, Calif.). They have seven each.
Sophomore goalkeeper Whitney Quackenbush (Manhasset, N.Y.), who was named to the womenslacrosse.com National Honor Roll after making 28 saves in two games last week, has a .515 save percentage and a 9.40 goals-against average.
Harvard (4-4, 1-2 Ivy League) has 16 freshmen and sophomores on its roster and just four juniors and seniors. That does not include junior attacker Jess Halpern, a first team All-Ivy League selection last year, since she played in two games this season before suffering a season-ending injury. Halpern had three goals in Harvard’s 8-5 win over Yale last year.
The Crimson’s top three goal scorers are all in their first year with the team. In addition to freshmen attackers Jennifer VanderMeulen (29 goals) and Alexis Dal Col (nine goals), sophomore midfielder Melanie Baskind has 12 goals. She also plays soccer for Harvard, and joined the lacrosse team this season.
Baskind leads the team in ground balls with 24 and caused turnovers with 17, followed by sophomore midfielder Tyler Petropoulos in each of those categories with 18 and 10 respectively. Petropoulos was an honorable mention All-Ivy selection last season.
Sophomore Kerry Clark made five saves against Yale last season, but the bulk of the goalkeeping for the Crimson this season has been done by senior Katherine Martino. Martino has a .439 save percentage and a 9.49 goals-against average.