Cornell Holds Off Yale, 8-7

Erin McMullan. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Erin McMullan. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Six Ground Balls, Five Caused Turnovers for Doherty

ITHACA, N.Y. – A late comeback attempt by the Yale women's lacrosse team came up short Saturday afternoon at Schoellkopf Field, as Cornell held on for an 8-7 win over the Bulldogs. Junior midfielder Christina Doherty had six ground balls and five caused turnovers, junior midfielder Erin Magnuson had three goals and an assist, and senior goalkeeper Erin McMullan made 10 saves, but Cornell clinched a spot in the Ivy League tournament by topping the Bulldogs.

"We played hard, but unfortunately a few plays did not go our way," said Anne Phillips, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Lacrosse. "Christina Doherty played an amazing game, Erin Magnuson had a four-point day, and Erin McMullan had some big saves. Our defense did a great job, and we cleared the ball well, but as a team we shot poorly [7-for-26] and lost the draw control battle, and that was costly."

With the two teams separated by only one game in the Ivy League standings entering the day -- Cornell was tied for third, Yale was tied for fifth -- the game had major implications for spots in the Ivy League Tournament. Under sunny skies at Schoellkopf, the Big Red donned pink uniforms as part of its annual Pink Game to raise money for breast cancer awareness, and Yale showed its support by wearing pink shoelaces.

Neither Cornell nor Yale could get much separation at any point in the game, as the largest lead for either team was two goals. The Big Red led by two goals twice in the second half, ultimately hanging on for a one-goal win that clinched a spot in the Ivy tournament with one game left in the regular season.

Both teams struggled offensively in the early going, with five of Yale's first six possessions ending in turnovers and one ending with a shot that hit the post. Cornell took a 1-0 lead when attacker Lindsay Toppe drove in for her 41st goal of the year at the 20:57 mark. That was the only goal allowed by the Yale defense in the first 19:26 of the game.

After a save by McMullan, Yale caught the Big Red in transition to tie the game. Sophomore midfielder Kelly Anne Sherlock fed senior attacker Jen DeVito in front for a goal at 15:24.

Shortly after McMullan denied a free position shot by Cornell -- the Big Red was 0-for-3 on free positions in the half -- Yale went ahead on a great individual effort by Magnuson. She drove to goal, dodged several defenders, and put the Bulldogs up 2-1 at the 11:10 mark.

Cornell tied the game again 36 seconds after Magnuson's goal, but after another McMullan save on a free position shot the Bulldogs went back ahead. After taking a high pass up top from DeVito down low, Magnuson fired it right back to DeVito in front for a goal.

Once again, though, Cornell tied the game quickly. The Big Red got the draw control after the Yale goal, and raced down to catch Yale's defense with a 2-on-1. Attacker Emily Tripodi scored to make it 3-3.

Junior midfielder Cathryn Avallone then put Yale back ahead, side arming in a free position shot at 3:34. A defensive stand by the Bulldogs on Cornell's final possession -- with senior defender Adrienne Tarver forcing Toppe into a tough shot that hit the post -- enabled Yale to head into halftime with the lead.

That was part of an excellent day for Yale's captain, as Tarver helped hold Toppe -- Cornell's leading scorer -- to just two goals on six shots.

"The defense as a whole played very well, and Tarver did an amazing job guarding Lindsay Toppe," said Phillips. "Most of the other teams that played Cornell have face-guarded Toppe, but we decided just to put Tarver on her and it worked."

Cornell (7-7, 4-2 Ivy League) tied the game again at 27:17 of the second, with attacker Chelsea Rowe scoring shortly after a Yale turnover in the midfield. The Big Red then appeared to go ahead a minute later, catching Yale in transition with a goal by midfielder Amanda D'Amico, but the goal was disallowed when D'Amico's stick was found to be illegal.

Goals by midfielder Sarah Hefner (on a free position) and attacker Chelsea Rowe then put Cornell ahead 6-4 at 21:32, prompting a Bulldog timeout.

Yale responded with two goals of its own to tie the score. First, a pass from DeVito in front enabled Magnuson to draw a free position attempt, and she fired in the shot low with 19:42 to play to get Yale within 6-5.

Magnuson then drew another free position attempt -- this one after a feed in front from Sherlock -- and converted to tie the score 6-6 with 15:38 remaining. That was Magnuson's 20th goal of the season, giving her a career high in that category.

Attacker Catherine Ellis knocked in the rebound of her own shot to give Cornell a 7-6 lead with 13:21 to play. After the Big Red got the draw, Toppe drove in for a goal to make it 8-6 with 11:36 left.

That wound up being the final goal for the Big Red, as the Yale defense hunkered down to hold Cornell scoreless for the final 11:36 while the Bulldogs attempted a comeback. The Big Red got the next draw control, but McMullan stopped a point-blank shot by attacker Rachel Moody to keep the Bulldogs within striking distance. Yale called timeout with 9:45 remaining.

Magnuson curled around for another apparent goal with 8:01 to play, but that crucial tally was taken off the scoreboard after Magnuson's stick was ruled illegal. That call also gave the Big Red possession at midfield, but McMullan stopped a Toppe shot and the Bulldogs cleared the ball.

DeVito got a free position shot with 5:48 left but Cornell goalie Carly Gniewek made the save, one of seven stops on the day for her. The Big Red then attempted to work the clock down, but after a Big Red turnover in the Yale zone with 3:45 to play Doherty grabbed the ground ball, initiating a frantic final few minutes.

As the Bulldogs were attempting to set up in Cornell's zone they turned the ball back over to the Big Red, but Doherty then gave Yale another chance by generating a turnover in the midfield. Junior midfielder Kerri Fleishhacker scored on a free position to get Yale within 8-7 with 1:47 to play.

Cornell midfielder Sarah Hefner then got the crucial draw control, but the Big Red turned the ball over under heavy pressure from Doherty at the end line in Yale's zone. That was Doherty's fifth caused turnover -- the second time in the last three games that she has tied Yale's single-game record with five CTs.

Yale cleared, and Avallone drew a yellow card on Toppe for tripping with 57.5 left, but a pass in front sailed over the stick of a wide-open DeVito and out of bounds. With 27.2 seconds left Cornell turned the ball over again, but Gniewek grabbed Fleishhacker's shot in the final seconds to seal the win.

This marked the third time this season Yale has lost an Ivy League game by three or fewer goals.

Yale (8-6, 2-4 Ivy League) hosts Brown Friday at 7:00 p.m. in the season finale.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity