February 25, 2012

Smashing Performance by Attack Keys 17-13 Win Over HC in Opener

Crow, McCormick and Rhodes Score Four Goals Each

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale women's lacrosse team wanted to get off to a quick start in the 2012 season opener Saturday morning vs. Holy Cross at Reese Stadium. So it was fitting that a pair of goals from one of the Bulldogs' speediest players -- sophomore midfielder Ashley McCormick -- helped the Bulldogs jump out to an early 4-1 lead. After a run by Holy Cross gave the Crusaders a 5-4 advantage, Yale then reeled off nine straight goals -- including two more by McCormick -- and the Bulldogs eventually finished off a 17-13 win. It was the most goals in a game for Yale since Apr. 3, 2010, and senior attacker Caroline Crow and junior attacker Devon Rhodes joined McCormick in the four-goal club.

"We had to come out hard and establish the tempo," said Anne Phillips, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Lacrosse. "We challenged them right away, and put them on their heels."

A pair of driving goals by McCormick in the opening four minutes sandwiched the first of nine saves on the day by senior goalkeeper Whitney Quackenbush, quickly establishing Yale's effectiveness at both ends of the field. A free position goal by Rhodes made it 3-0 before Holy Cross answered on a tally by attacker Seton Hartnett.

Right after another big save by Quackenbush, a long pass from Crow to freshman midfielder Reilly Foote below the goal line set Yale's next scoring play in motion. Foote fed it to sophomore attacker Meghan Murray, who made it 4-1 with 22:44 to play in the first.

But Holy Cross would not go away quietly. After three straight goals by the Crusaders tied the score, Phillips called timeout and tried to settle down her young squad, which featured six sophomores and three freshmen in the starting lineup.

A goal by Holy Cross attacker Kayla DiBari made it 5-4 Crusaders with 11:34 to play, but that would be the last lead of the day for the visitors. After a long, patient possession, Rhodes broke through a double team and found a way to score to tie the game.

A pair of goals by Crow, including one on a free position, started to extend Yale's lead.

As Yale's captain, Crow's role as a leader on the team is clearly established. She has also been one of the team's top goal scorers each of the past two years (12 each). The only thing that has held her back has been injuries, and Saturday's performance may be a sign that she is ready for a memorable senior year.

"We haven't had her for a full season yet," said Phillips. "She's finally healthy at the beginning of the year, and she had a great first day."

Quackenbush kept the Crusaders at bay with a spectacular denial of Hartnett off a feed from midfielder Laura Ryan, and Rhodes tacked on another free position goal to send Yale into halftime up 8-5.

McCormick once again set the tone at the start of the second half, scoring only 67 seconds in. She then set up a Rhodes goal, and scored again herself on a free position shot, as the Bulldogs cracked double digits.

McCormick had just six goals all of last season, but did show her offensive potential with a hat trick in the win over Colgate. The Bulldogs hope that Saturday's performance indicates that those sorts of games will become commonplace for her this year.

"Ashley's starting to find her offensive game," said Phillips. "She's always been a great middie and a great defender."

After a timeout by Holy Cross, Quackenbush's denial of a free position shot by attacker/midfielder Sara Hennessey kept momentum squarely in Yale's favor. After a Yale turnover, Quackenbush again came up with a big save, and shortly after that a Holy Cross penalty gave the Bulldogs the chance to try their man-up offense. That paid dividends in the form of a goal by Murray, assisted by Rhodes.

Later, Murray set up freshman midfielder Cathryn Avallone for a score, and Yale had a 13-5 lead.

But the young Bulldogs could not quite put Holy Cross away. Over a span of slightly more than 15 minutes as the game wore on, Holy Cross went on an 8-2 run, with Yale's only goals coming from Crow. That brought Holy Cross within 15-13 with just over two minutes to play.

After a turnover by the Bulldogs Hennessey had a free position shot, but Quackenbush made the save and pumped her fist dramatically as sophomore defender Adrienne Tarver was awarded the ground ball after a scrum in front of the net. But a turnover by the Bulldogs with 30 seconds to play in the Holy Cross zone kept things dicey.

Avallone then came up big, literally, as she extended her stick up as far as she could to pick off a Holy Cross pass just outside the 12-meter arc in the Crusader zone with 20 seconds left. She then could not resist the temptation, driving in and putting a shot on goal that goalie Maddie Parisi got a piece of. Avallone's gamble paid off, though, as the shot trickled behind Parisi and rolled over the goal line.

 "As a coach, you don't ever want to shoot in that situation -- you want to run the clock down," said Phillips. "That was a freshman mistake in her first game, and there may be a lot of those 'teachable moments' this season with 19 freshmen and sophomores on the roster."

Still, Avallone's work Saturday was impressive considering that she was not playing healthy.

"She's been sick all week, and she didn't even warm up today," Phillips said. "But then we put her in the game and she did fine. She's a tough kid, and that kind of commitment and dedication is awesome."

Freshman midfielder Christina Doherty added a goal, assisted by Rhodes, as time expired for the 17-13 final.

The Bulldogs finished with 17 draw controls -- five more than they got in any game last season, a performance that further helped erase the memories of that 3-12 campaign. Sophomore attacker Sabine van der Linden led the way with five draws.

With a win under their belts, the Bulldogs must now turn their attention to a trip to BU on Wednesday. Like the Crusaders, the Terriers beat Yale 12-5 last season, so Wednesday's game is an opportunity to further prove the difference a year can make.

"The offensive piece is really coming together, and we know how we've got to adjust defensively," said Phillips.

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