Last-minute goal dooms field hockey

Coming off a three-game winning streak, including last weekend’s exciting victory over Harvard, the field hockey team went to Penn hoping to extend their streak by one more game. And up until the final minutes, the Bulldogs had high hopes for a win.

With 2:06 left on the clock, Penn’s Kristen Gray connected on a penalty corner, securing the game for the Quakers. This weekend’s defeat made it impossible for the Elis to achieve a winning record and earn an ECAC playoff berth.

Up until that score, the Bulldogs kept the Quakers scoreless for over 67 minutes. Without Gray’s goal, and with the Bulldogs’ continued defensive effort, team members said the game could have ended differently.

“I was hoping we would go into overtime,” head coach Pam Stuper said.

Penn walked away from the game with not only a victory but also with impressive statistics, outshooting Yale 11 to eight and taking 10 corners compared to Yale’s three.

“We just let them have one too many corners,” forward Rachel Lentz ’07 said. “It’s inevitable that one of those balls is going to go in.”

The Bulldogs played aggressively up until the end but gave Penn too many chances.

“I think it was a game of opportunity, and they had more of them,” Stuper said. “We were outshot and outcornered and eventually they put one in.”

One factor the Bulldogs faced was a different turf, one that is usually used for football and soccer, but which Penn also uses for field hockey. The turf, which is rougher than Yale’s Johnson Field’s playing surface, slows down the ball. That property is ideal for football and soccer matches, but a hindrance for field hockey, Lentz said.

“We had to change how we normally play our game,” she said.

In preparation for Sunday’s game, the Bulldogs practiced on grass last week and said they felt well-adjusted before they reached Philadelphia.

“I thought we played the turf well, and I thought we did a good job of battling through that challenge,” Stuper said.

Kate Crandall ’06 started in goal for the Bulldogs and made six saves on the day, but suffered her first loss as a starter since Sept. 18 versus VCU. This Saturday marked Crandall’s fourth-straight start in relief of Elizabeth Friedlander ’07, who has not started since the Elis’ 4-0 loss to Dartmouth Oct. 8.

“Any lineup is determined game-to-game,” Stuper said. “That’s something that kids fight for no matter what the position every day at practice.”

The players are comfortable with both goalkeepers’ styles, defender Beth Raveche ’08 said.

Although they were disappointed with the additional loss on their record, the Bulldogs said they know they have to look ahead.

“Some days you come out with a win and some days you don’t,” Raveche said.

The Bulldogs finish off their season with two conference games, facing Columbia on Saturday and Brown the next weekend.

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