F. hockey digs in for final stretch

Saturday will be as close as it will ever get to a do-or-die game for the field hockey team.

If the Bulldogs are to finish above .500 in Ivy League play, they must post wins over both Columbia and Brown the next two weekends as they round out their season.

Yale (3-12, 2-3 Ivy) first faces the Lions (7-8, 1-4 Ivy) this Saturday at Johnson Field in the final home game for the seven members of the Class of 2007. New Haven has not been kind this fall to the Bulldogs, who nabbed their sole win over Virginia Commonwealth on Sept. 1 and have since gone 0-5. The Elis will try to dig out of their current five-game losing streak in their home finale, in hopes of climbing toward the .500 mark and keeping alive a chance to finish second in the league.

While Columbia’s Ivy record may not reflect it, the Lions are not to be taken lightly. The team is riding a three-game win streak, including a big 5-0 win over Dartmouth last Friday and a 1-0 overtime win against Quinnipiac the weekend before.

Although the Bulldogs fought hard in a neck-and-neck match on Wednesday night against Quinnipiac, they were ultimately unable to come away with the win. After Yale fell behind 1-0 in the first half, back Emily Palilonis ’07 scored off a pass by Heather Orrico ’07 under two minutes into the second half to tie up the game. But the Bobcats retaliated in the twelfth minute and were able to hold on the lead to notch a 2-1 victory.

Midfielder Katie Cantore ’10 said although the Elis played well, they did not get the outcome they desired.

“We finally put everything together and showed what we’ve been working so hard on,” she said. “[On Saturday] we’re basically looking to continue to transfer the ball quickly, to attack in twos and threes and to constantly support each other all over the field.”

Forward Ramie Merrill leads the Columbia offense in points with 11, trailed closely by midfielder Laura Cosan, who has 9. Goalkeeper Gena Miller has 69 saves this season, with a 1.68 goals-against average. The Lions’ freshman class is also strong, with three players who have been named Rookie of the Week this season, including midfielder Jane Gartland, who scored the game-winner over Colgate last weekend.

The Bulldogs won the first nine meetings between the two teams, but Columbia has won the last two games of the series by a 1-0 margin. If Yale is able to win its final two games against the Lions and the Bears on Nov. 4, it will finish above the .500 mark in league play for only the second time since 1998.

Forward Alyssa Jethani ’09 said the Elis have a positive attitude and are looking to carry over their momentum.

“Hopefully we’ll have one Ivy win this week and another next week,” she said. “As a team we’re all ready to do what it takes to win, so Columbia had better watch out.”

Saturday will also be an opportunity for goalkeeper Elizabeth Friedlander ’07 to whittle down her goals per game average, already fourth in the nation at 9.43. Friedlander had 48 saves in her last five games, and enters the weekend as the current Ivy leader in saves with 137. Earlier this week she was selected for the NFHCA Senior All-Star Game.

Orrico said the Elis played their best hockey in weeks against Quinnipiac and will look to score fast and score frequently against the Lions.

“I think we’re just going to go out there and play the best we can,” she said. “Although this season hasn’t been the best we hoped it would be, we’ve enjoyed our wins and our losses and we’re going to savor our final game.”

Midfielder Lindsay Collins ’07, midfielder Rachel Lentz ’07, back Jenn Slough ’07, forward Allison Spitzer ’07, Orrico, Palilonis and Friedlander will be honored Saturday before the game, their last ever at Johnson Field.

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