Field hockey begins surge

With the momentum of a three-game winning streak driving the field hockey team forward, the squad will seek to continue its recent string of victories by picking up its first Ivy win tomorrow.

The Bulldogs (4-5, 0-2 Ivy) will face off against league rival Dartmouth (2-6, 1-2) on Saturday at Johnson Field in their third Ivy game of the season. They will take the field again on Sunday, as they travel to Worcester to battle Holy Cross (3-8) in a game that could put them over .500 for the first time this season.

The Bulldogs faced some tough opposition early in the season. No. 3 UConn (11-1) won an early September matchup 1-0, and then-No. 6 Michigan State (10-3) dealt the Elis a painful 6-1 loss 11 days later. But the grueling schedule was ultimately helpful, midfielder Katie Cantore ’10 said, because it helped the team learn quickly what was working and what had to be improved.

“We played some of the top teams in the country at the beginning of the season,” she said. “The high level of play we competed against in those games was the best preparation we could have had. It allowed us to pinpoint weaknesses early and make the necessary changes so that we could go out and be successful in the rest of our season.”

The squad has been successful in its past three matches. Riding an offensive explosion two weeks ago against Fairfield (2-9), the Bulldogs annihilated the Stags 7-0 in goaltender Charlotte Goins ’10 first shutout of the season. Last weekend, they picked up two more victories at Quinnipiac (1-9) and against Sacred Heart (2-8), defeating the Bobcats and Pioneers 1-0 and 5-2, respectively.

The Bulldogs’ defense has been solid since the season began, and Goins is currently second in the nation for save percentage, at 84 percent, and sixth for number of saves per game, at 9.33. But it is only recently that the squad has found its offensive stride. In the first three games of the season, the Bulldogs scored just a single goal. But ever since the team’s first triumph against Hofstra (5-6), they have scored 20 goals — 11 courtesy of forward Ashley McCauley ’10. McCauley is currently first in the nation for goals scored per game, at 1.22, and was named Ivy League Player of the Week after her impressive nine-point Sunday last weekend.

“We’re going to ride the momentum we have,” midfielder Ali Rotondo ’09 said. “We have Ashley, who’s scored a number of goals for us, as well as several other people who’ve contributed on offense. We also had a hard week of practice, and we’re going to continue to do what’s made us successful.”

Dartmouth is coming off a painful five-game losing streak, most recently having dropped a contest 5-2 against the University of Vermont (9-4). Saturday’s game is the Elis’ third chance to pick up a league win this season after losing to defending champion Princeton (5-4, 3-1) and Cornell (6-2, 3-1).

“Dartmouth is a great team, and we always have a very tough match with them,” head coach Pam Stuper said. “But I’m really happy with how we practiced, I obviously feel good about last week’s wins, and I feel good about the things we’ve worked on. I think we’re in the best place we can possibly be.”

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