With only one Ivy League contest in the books, it may seem premature to label Saturday’s showdown with perennial national powerhouse Princeton as the biggest game of the season for the Yale field hockey team. Yet because the league champion is determined solely by the regular season Ivy League record, and because No. 7 Princeton has established itself as the premiere squad in the league, it may prove to be just that.
A win against their Ivy League rivals would not only be a significant upset for the Elis (4-2) but would also place the Bulldogs’ destiny entirely in their own hands for the remainder of the Ivy League season.
But toppling the Tigers will be easier said than done.
Princeton enters Saturday’s game ranked seventh in the nation with a 6-1 record. The team’s wins include two overtime victories against No. 3 Syracuse and No. 18 Ohio State, and a 6-1 drubbing of Dartmouth in their only Ivy League game to date.
The team is led by sophomore Kathleen Sharkey, whose eight goals and 21 points on the young season have provided a major portion of the Tigers’ offense. She is joined by freshmen Michelle Cesan — who has scored an impressive 12 points so far in her debut campaign — and Katie Reinprecht (12 points), and Kaitlyn Perrelle (9 points) on the Princeton scoring attack.
After Saturday’s contest, the Bulldogs will travel to Hempstead, N.Y., to take on the Hofstra Pride (5-3). They are led by sophomore Genna Kovar, who comes into this weekend’s play with 10 points on the season.
Yale will counter with what has emerged as a relentless and well-balanced scoring attack. Ten different players have tallied goals this season for the Bulldogs, who have outshot opponents 124-60 en route to a 4-2 record. They are led by the prolific scoring duo of forward Ashley McCauley ’10 (7 goals, 14 points) and midfielder Katie Cantore ’10 (9 assists) who are both climbing up Yale’s all-time rankings in those categories. Top defender Marissa Waldemore ’11 is also providing a boost, having already reached career highs in goals (3) and points (8).
That offense has combined with a defensive line that has been consistently strong all season to propel Yale to one of its hottest starts in team history. Though it’s still early, it is safe to say that this weekend will go a long way in determining whether the Bulldogs can turn that memorable start into an even more memorable season.
The Elis take on the Tigers on Saturday at noon at Princeton’s Class of ’52 field.