And then there was one.
After defeating the Fairfield Stags 2-1 in a down-to-the-wire victory in Fairfield, Conn., on Tuesday night, the field hockey team has only one game left in its regular season. The Bulldogs (10-6, 4-2 Ivy) will battle the Brown Bears (11-5, 4-2) Saturday for the No. 2 spot in the Ivy League behind defending champion Princeton (11-5, 6-0). The Crimson (11-5, 4-2), who will be playing their final contest against Columbia (1-15, 0-6) this weekend, are also in the hunt to be the first runners-up in league standings.
In the opening minutes of their game against Fairfield (6-14) on Tuesday afternoon, the Bulldogs came charging out of the gates, wreaking havoc on the floundering Stag defense. Sweeper Meredith Hudson ’05 put Yale on the board only 2:55 minutes into the first half off of assists from midfielders Sarah Driscoll ’05 and Jana Halfon ’04.
After Hudson’s goal, the Stags regained their composure and began challenging Yale’s defense. All offensive efforts were fruitless, however, as a scoring drought plagued both teams for the next 53:34 minutes of play.
“This was to be Fairfield’s last game of the season,” forward Katie Rivkin ’06 said. “We expected and prepared for a team that would come out with everything they had for their final game.”
Though the Stags might have had end-of-season adrenaline on their side, Yale controlled the tempo for the majority of the first half. The Bulldogs out-shot Fairfield 10-3 and did not allow a single Fairfield penalty corner while earning four of their own.
The second half was another story, however, as the Stags began to work around Yale’s backfield. Despite what the Elis considered a sporadic defensive performance, Yale managed to cling to a 1-0 lead for most of the game.
“Our play in the circle could have been a little crisper,” Hudson said. “I have definitely seen us play better defense.”
Fairfield finally cracked its goose egg with less than 15 minutes to play when Kelly Rath scored on assists from Allison Mays and Lindsay Martin to tie up the game. The Eli offense quickly responded with a resurgence of energy and managed to reclaim the lead when Rivkin scored unassisted at 64:55 to seal the Bulldogs’ fourth consecutive victory.
“One thing we do well is we react well to getting scored on,” Yale head coach Ainslee Lamb said. “I knew we had the ability to come back and win.”
Veteran goalie Spike Nesburg ’04 recorded all five of her saves in the second half, while her Stag counterpart, Lauren Thomas, tallied eight.
“Krissy had a ton of great saves,” Hudson said. “We had a few defensive let-downs but she always came up with the big play.”
Yale lost the second-half penalty corner battle 2-6 and only got off four shots to Fairfield’s five.
Although the Elis are riding high on momentum, they will face off against Brown, another streaking team, in the regular season finale for both teams.
The Bears are currently on a four-game winning streak, which includes key victories over Penn (10-6, 3-3) and Cornell (3-12, 1-5). The Bulldogs need to play a full 70 minutes of solid field hockey in order to cling to the coveted second-place finish. Additionally, a win for Yale would mean a berth in the ECAC Championships for the reigning tournament title-holders.
“We all know how important Saturday’s game is,” Rivkin said. “If we step onto the field mentally prepared to play not only to win, but to dominate the game, there is nothing that can keep us from walking away with a win.”