Under a gray sky, soaked by an icy downpour and battered by chilly winds, the field hockey team saw its final match of the season slip away on Saturday as Senior Day ended in defeat and heartbreak.
The Bulldogs (7-10, 2-5 Ivy) fell to visiting rival Brown (1-16, 1-6) in a 3-0 loss that ended a season full of emotional ups and downs. The defeat leaves the Elis in sixth place in the Ancient Eight, one game ahead of the Bears and Dartmouth (6-11, 1-6).
Brown forward Tacy Zysk found the back of the net first. At 12:47, unassisted, she fired the ball past goaltender Charlotte Goins ’10 to put the Bears on the scoreboard.
The Elis fought to regroup after Brown seized the lead, and they continued playing fairly well despite being shaken, head coach Pam Stuper said. But when Brown midfielder Katie Hyland knocked in a second goal with eight minutes to play in the first half, giving the Bears a 2-0 lead, the Bulldogs began to slow. The stanza ended with the Elis lagging behind their Providence foes, having taken only three shots, compared to the Bears’ eight.
“We came out strong and were fired up to win at the beginning,” midfielder Katie Cantore ’10 said. “But once they scored on us, we let up, which is really disappointing because one of our greatest improvements this year was retaliating after being scored on.”
As the second half began, the Bulldogs found a new resolve, despite losing captain Harriet Thayer ’08. Thayer took a hard hit to the head early in the first, and although she hung on for the rest of the period, what would later be diagnosed as a concussion kept her from playing in the second half. In spite of the hole in their ranks, the Elis controlled the ball for much of the second and outshot the Bears 10 to two.
But even the Bulldogs’ shot advantage and seven penalty corners could not propel them past the Bears or put them on the scoreboard. After almost 25 minutes of scoreless play, it was Brown’s Zysk who scored next, tallying her second goal of the game and giving the Bears a 3-0 lead at 58:21.
And when the whistle blew 12 minutes later, it was Brown who stormed the field in triumph in their first — and last — victory of the season.
“I knew Brown was a good team, and I knew they would give us a tough game,” Stuper said. “And they did even more than I thought they would. I think ultimately, it came down to the fact that Brown wanted their first win of the season more than we wanted our eighth, and they played like that.”
Last year the Elis defeated the Bears 3-1 in the season finale. This year’s loss puts them at 16-15-4 all-time against Brown and leaves them with a five-game losing streak to end the season — a string of defeats that almost mirrors the team’s 1-5 start. But as disappointing as those losses were, they should not overshadow the team’s improvement this year, Stuper said.
“We’re definitely a better team than when we started out in many aspects of our play,” she said. “But I also think that we could have been great. I’m certainly happy — I think we definitely made some progress, but I think we could have done just a little bit more.”
After the rough season beginning, there came a six-game winning streak, the program’s longest since 2003. The lackluster loss to Princeton (13-4, 6-1) early in the season cannot take away the heady triumph of the anniversary weekend victory over Harvard (8-9, 4-3). And although Senior Day ended in a loss, ultimately it is the progress the team has made and the season as a whole that really matter, forward Cat Lindroth ’08 said.
“I think all of us have the sense that we really turned the corner this year for Yale field hockey,” she said. “We really took a step in a big way toward getting to where we completely dominate opponents. I do think there are details that need to be worked out in the spring, but I have no doubt in my mind that this team is just going to continue to get better and better and better. There isn’t another team like our team — there’s no doubt about that.”