The field hockey team’s winning streak continued — and this time, the margin of victory was greater than a single goal.
After starting the season 2-5, the Elis (7-7, 1-4 Ivy) have won five of their last six games. The last six Bulldog wins were all one-goal victories. But Tuesday night, Yale crushed Sacred Heart 3-0 at Johnson Field in its largest margin of victory this fall.
Sweeper Meredith Hudson ’05 scored all three goals, and Sarah Driscoll ’05 assisted on each score to lead Yale past Sacred Heart before a crowd of 150.
It was Hudson’s first career hat trick.
“It felt good to finally execute some corners and capitalize on scoring opportunities,” Hudson said.
The Elis took advantage of Sacred Heart penalties, holding a 6-2 advantage in penalty shots. Tuesday’s game was just the second time in 10 games the Bulldogs outcornered their opponents.
Driscoll and Jana Halfon ’04 co-assisted on two Hudson penalty corner shots, and Driscoll also received the assist for Hudson’s third tally.
All season, Driscoll has been the team’s primary ball distributor. The Eli midfielder has seven of the team’s 11 season assists and leads the team with 11 points.
With the win, the Bulldogs are at .500 for the first time since Sept. 22, when the team was 2-2. Then Yale went into a 1-5 tailspin, but the team has experienced a late-season surge, winning four in a row.
Yale currently holds the Ivy League’s longest unbeaten streak.
“I am so glad things are finally starting to click on our corners,” Hudson said. “We’ve always been executing, but lately we’ve started to score and become more threatening.”
The game was a low-shooting affair as the backfields controlled the tempo. Both teams combined for just 15 shots, with Yale holding a slight 8-7 shot advantage.
Hudson began the scoring midway into the first half, capitalizing on a penalty corner to put Yale up 1-0.
“Basically, on our offensive corners, Sarah [Driscoll] is the stick-stopper, and I am the hitter,” Hudson said. “We’ve worked really hard since last spring on our timing and speed of execution on our corners.”
The practice paid off as the duo, along with assistance from Halfon, carried out another perfect corner play with the clock at 25:40 in the second half.
“I was just put in a position to score from our forwards, who created the corners,” Hudson said. “If they hadn’t started it up there, I wouldn’t have been on the line.”
The Bulldog sweeper closed out the scoring with 15:49 remaining in the game. Hudson received a crisp feed from Driscoll and launched it past Sacred Heart (3-15) goalie Robyn Breer.
Yale felt secure with a 3-0 lead, and for the first time this season, Eli goaltender Krissy Nesburg ’04 did not close out the game. Nesburg recorded four saves to add to her league-leading season total of 104.
Wendy Ketner ’03 played the final four and a half minutes at goal, combining with Nesburg for the shutout.
The shutout was the Bulldogs’ second of the year.
“As a team, I think we are connecting better all over the field, and we now have the confidence to transfer the ball more and make better stick to stick passes, instead of just hitting the ball and hoping it goes to the right place,” Driscoll said.
After her hat trick, Hudson leads the team with 4 season goals. But four other players are tied, with two goals apiece, for second place.
“It is great that we have so many different people scoring, because clearly scoring has been an issue for us this season,” Driscoll said. “But I feel that in the past couple of games we have all been working hard at making the necessary adjustments.”
Several freshmen have stepped up and contributed to the team’s turnaround. Bridget Henn ’06, Marly Gillece ’06 and Katie Rivkin ’06 have all received significant playing time this fall.
Gillece, who moved from the offense to the backfield early in the season, has been a key defensive force, often marking the opponent’s top scoring threat. She was named the Ivy League’s field hockey Rookie of the Week this past week.
Yale still has three games left this season, but already has equaled last year’s win total of seven.
The team looks to crack the .500 barrier on Friday against league doormat Columbia (3-11, 0-5 Ivy). The game marks the Elis’ last regular season home game.
Columbia and Yale are the only teams in the league without a single player in the top 10 of any offensive category.
Each of the final three games is a must-win if the Bulldogs hope to extend their season.
“We all realize that any chance of playing postseason is dependent on us winning the rest of our games, including our final two Ivy games,” Driscoll said.