After riding high on a winning streak that spanned nearly a month, the field hockey team finally snapped a string of victories yesterday against what is likely the last nationally-ranked opponent it will face this season.
The Bulldogs (7-6, 2-2 Ivy) fought their way to a 2-1 double-overtime win over Ivy rival Harvard (7-5, 3-1) on Saturday at Johnson Field, knocking the Crimson out of first place in the league rankings and moving themselves up a slot to a tie for fourth with Columbia (7-5, 2-2) and Penn (6-7, 2-2). But their blazing momentum was not enough to propel the Elis past No. 18 Syracuse (12-4) on Sunday afternoon. Yale’s six-game winning streak was shattered against the Orange in a 5-2 loss that wrapped up its weekend home stand and capped off an emotional weekend.
Saturday’s game began slowly for the Bulldogs, who only took three shots in the first half and gave up one goal to Crimson back Maggie McVeigh at 17:23. Though the second half yielded more shot opportunities for the Elis, they did not manage to break onto the scoreboard until nearly a full hour had passed. Forward Cat Lindroth ’08, assisted by midfielder/back Marissa Waldemore ’11, found the back of the net at 59:55 to tie up the match and send the game into overtime 10 minutes later.
“We started off not playing as well as we could have,” head coach Pam Stuper said. “And then through the second half, and then the first and second overtimes, we just got better and better every minute. It was fantastic. We just rolled through.”
Three key saves by goaltender Charlotte Goins ’10 and one save by Crimson goalie Kylie Stone kept the first overtime period scoreless. But play continued to heat up, and finally – after almost ten minutes had passed scorelessly in the second overtime – Lindroth snagged a pass from captain Harriet Thayer ’08, diving to deflect the ball into the net and clinching an Eli victory.
“We’re finally starting to hit that place where we know where we need to be when those attacking plays start to emerge,” Lindroth said. “It’s at the point where we know each other really well and know where the ball is going to go. It’s a really great feeling.”
The Bulldogs started strongly yesterday, keeping the Orange at bay as they tried to find a way past Syracuse’s tough defense. At 22:36, the Orange finally broke onto the scoreboard, taking a 1-0 lead. But the Elis fought back, and with only five minutes left to play before halftime, forward Ashley McCauley ’10 passed the ball to Lindroth, who snapped it toward the net. Midfielder Laura Pierce ’09 got her stick on it and sent it rolling past Syracuse goalkeeper Heather Hess to knot the score at 1-1. It was Pierce’s first goal of her collegiate career.
The second half was tougher for the Elis. At 42:53, a Syracuse corner led to a shot by Syracuse midfielder Lelia Sacré that Goins dove for and nearly saved – but it deflected off her stick and bounced high into the net, handing the lead back to the Orange. Only four minutes later, another corner allowed Sacré to blast in her second goal of the game, widening the gap to two.
A third goal at 52:13 put the Orange ahead 4-1, and although McCauley fought back with a goal of her own at 55:33, the Bulldogs could not overcome the Syracuse defense. The Orange slotted one more goal with 13 seconds on the clock, and the final whistle blew with the score at a disappointing 5-2.
“We had a great first half, absolutely fantastic,” Stuper said. “But we need to learn to capitalize on those opportunities when we have an open net or the goalie is pulled to one side. Had we been able to do that, things might have ended up looking a little different.”
The loss ended the team’s longest winning streak in four years. But the Bulldogs remain above .500 and will now focus their attention on bouncing back after the tough loss. And despite yesterday’s defeat, the weekend as a whole was a success, with two performances to be proud of – especially because it was their 35th anniversary weekend, midfielder Ali Rotondo ’09 said.
“This weekend was a great weekend overall,” she said. “Yesterday we played well but didn’t capitalize on everything we could have, which is why it turned out how it did. And Saturday was a phenomenal win, one of the best not only in my time at Yale but in my whole life. It was fantastic – not only was it double overtime, but we had all the alums there and beat our archrival.”