Bulldogs Look to Upset Fighting Irish
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – In each of the past 16 springs, dozens of women's lacrosse teams from all over the country have headed to Florida for the annual Spring Fling tournament. On Tuesday night at 6 p.m., a matchup between Yale and No. 10 Notre Dame takes center stage as the tournament plays at Hilltopper Stadium in Delray Beach for the first time. With all but two of the other teams in the tournament having the night off, the stadium is expected to be packed as the Bulldogs battle the Fighting Irish for the first time since meeting in the 2007 Spring Fling.
That 2007 season was a memorable one for the Bulldogs, as they earned their third NCAA Tournament appearance and posted a 13-4 record. But the Fighting Irish came away with a 9-7 victory in the game at Spring Fling. That was the sixth meeting all-time between the two programs, and the series is currently tied 3-3.
Though no-one on Yale's current roster was part of that 2007 game, there are other connections. Anne Phillips, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Lacrosse, came to watch that game because she was in Florida with the team she was coaching at the time, Franklin & Marshall. Phillips and F&M would finish the 2007 season with a perfect 21-0 record and a Division III National Championship.
Yale assistant coach Jill Byers was also at the game -- as an attacker for Notre Dame. Byers, a sophomore at the time, had a pair of goals for the Fighting Irish, who were ranked No. 6 in the country then. She went on to earn one of four All-American honors for her career that season, and she is still Notre Dame's all-time leading goal scorer (262 goals, fourth in NCAA history).
Yale (2-1, 0-1 Ivy League) has been staying in Boca Raton, Fla., since Friday in preparation for the game. The Bulldogs are coming off an 11-10 victory over Bryant at Reese Stadium last Wednesday. Senior attacker Caroline Crow (Davidsonville, Md.) and freshman attacker Kerri Fleishhacker (Manhasset, N.Y.) had four points each, including a hat trick by Crow. Freshman midfielder Cathryn Avallone (Manhasset, N.Y.) continued to be a model of consistency, scoring exactly two goals for the third straight game. Sophomore midfielder Ashley McCormick (Paoli, Pa.) did a little bit of everything, leading the team with five ground balls and adding a pair of caused turnovers, a goal, an assist and a draw control.
McCormick is tied for the team lead in points (nine) with sophomore attacker Devon Rhodes (E. Northport, N.Y.). McCormick also leads the team in ground balls (nine) and caused turnovers (six). Sophomore attacker Sabine van der Linden (London, England) leads the team in draw controls with eight. Senior goalkeeper Whitney Quackenbush (Manhasset, N.Y.) has a .420 save percentage and an 11.09 goals-against average.
Notre Dame (4-0, 0-0 Big East), which won 14-11 at BU Saturday, has run up 61 goals in its first four games. The Fighting Irish attack is led by attacker Maggie Tamasitis, who has 15 assists -- including four in the win at BU, giving her a school-record 107 for her career. She was a third team All-American last year, when she tied for second in the country with 46 assists, and is on the watch list for the Tewaaraton Trophy this year.
Another 5-foot-3 player, midfielder/attacker Lindsay Powell, is Notre Dame's top goal scorer with 14. She missed all of last season with a knee injury. Midfielder Margaret Smith leads the team in ground balls (15), draw controls (15) and caused turnovers (nine). Goalie Ellie Hilling, who has started for all three years of her career, has a .486 save percentage and a 9.75 goals-against average.
"Spring Fling" brings women's lacrosse teams from throughout the country to Florida from Mar. 3-18 this year. Since its start in 1997, the tournament has hosted more than 160 NCAA teams, 25 prep school teams and a dozen high school squads. In addition to the teams that are here for the Spring Fling tournament, many of the local youth teams are expected to be at Tuesday night's game. One of them, Flow 24/7 (sixth through eighth graders), even stopped by to watch Yale practice on Sunday morning.
Originally set in Panama City Beach (Bay County), Spring Fling moved to Palm Beach County in 2004. Tuesday night's game will mark the first at Delray Beach's Hilltopper Stadium, a natural grass field adjacent to the Seacrest Soccer Complex on the former site of Atlantic High School. When Atlantic High moved to a new building, the City took over operation of the athletic fields.
Admission and parking are free Tuesday, and the concessions stand will be open. Following the Yale-Notre Dame game, SUNY-Fredonia of New York will play Claremont-Mudd-Scripps of California in a Division III game.
Yale vs. Notre Dame, Tuesday, 6 p.m.:
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity