Field hockey collects first season win

A monstrous win on Friday gave the field hockey team momentum, but even that wasn’t enough when they faced off against one of the most powerful squads in the nation come Sunday afternoon.

The Bulldogs (1-4, 0-1 Ivy) bulldozed the Hofstra Pride (3-4) in a 6-2 blowout on Friday in Hempstead for their first win of the season. But their explosive offense flagged somewhat against Sunday’s foe, and beneath an onslaught of more than 30 shots by No. 6 Michigan State (7-1), the Elis took a tough 6-1 loss on their home turf.

Friday’s match started off slowly for the Bulldogs, and the Pride notched their first goal at only 8:17 into the first. The Elis fought back and knotted the score at 22:10, when forward Ashley McCauley ’10 scored her first career goal after forward Jayna Whitcher ’09 fed her a pass off a breakaway. But Hofstra took its lead back on a penalty stroke at 34:42, leaving the Bulldogs to begin the second period down by one.

The Elis took just four shots in the first, compared to Hofstra’s 14, and the Pride also garnered seven penalty corners. But the Bulldogs weren’t about to despair, and just a few minutes into the second half, gameplay began to shift in the squad’s favor.

“It was the defining moment of the game,” head coach Pam Stuper said. “There was a chance for Katie Cantore ’10 to tie it up, but she missed a [penalty] stroke. And instead of getting deflated, the team just came after Hofstra.”

At 40:28, McCauley put away her second goal of the game. At 41:57, assisted by Cantore, she snapped in a third. And at 42:56, again off a Cantore pass, she beat the Hofstra goalie once more, scoring three times in the course of just 148 seconds.

The Bulldogs seized their new 4-2 lead and ran with it, as Harriet Thayer ’08 snagged her own unassisted goal at forty-four minutes even. And at 52:08, the Elis scored for the final time, when Cantore took another penalty stroke and beat out Pride goalkeeper Nadine Surak to put the score at the final tally of 6-2.

“We really seemed to begin to feed off one another and really play together,” back Julia Weiser ’10 said. “Our middies were supporting our forwards and our backs were supporting our middies.”

The Bulldogs began Sunday’s match against the nationally ranked Spartans with an offensive explosion comparable to Friday’s second period. Michigan, coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to No. 3 UConn (7-1), wasn’t quite prepared for what Stuper called “the best start we’ve had.” And as a result, after only about 10 and a half minutes of play, forward Cat Lindroth ’08 scored the first goal of the game off a left cross by McCauley, giving the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.

“We came out strong and really controlled the play by scoring first,” midfielder Ali Rotondo ’09 said. “Our momentum from Friday’s game clearly carried over through our ability to get on the scoreboard early. Unfortunately, Michigan State’s answer to our goal was revenge.”

At 22:11, Michigan forward Becky Manning gave the Spartans their first point and started them on a scoring streak. By the time the whistle blew to signal the half, the Bulldogs were trailing 4-1. Michigan took 14 shots in the first, while the Bulldogs took just three — the only shots they would have all game.

The Eli defense rallied in the second, keeping the Spartans at bay for more than 20 minutes. But at 56:49, Michigan forward Michelle Ciliberti beat out goalkeeper Charlotte Goins ’10 on a breakaway. Though Goins would go on to make 10 saves in the second half, Michigan would score one final time with just 10 seconds on the clock, making the final score 6-1.

“We had a better second half, much better defensively, though we still gave up too many shots,” Stuper said. “And we had some good starts to attacks, but we couldn’t get the ball down there.”

Now the Bulldogs look ahead to Friday’s home game against league rival Cornell (3-2, 1-1 Ivy). And this weekend’s intense play — in spite of yesterday’s loss — has taught the team what it is capable of, Weiser said.

“I think this weekend has been a bit of a turning point in that in both games, we’ve seen what we’re capable of,” she said. “Against Hofstra, we saw that we can really capitalize on opportunities and score a lot of goals, and in this game we learned we can really hang with one of the most talented teams in the nation.”

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