Thanks to stellar defensive performances both Saturday and Sunday, the Yale women’s field hockey team emerged from a grueling weekend with a hard-earned split. The Bulldogs (5–3, 2–1 Ivy) took an exciting 1–0 overtime victory over Cornell at Johnson Field on Saturday before dropping a tough 1–0 decision to No. 9 UMass at Amherst on Sunday.
The win in Saturday’s game, the third Ivy League contest of the season for the Bulldogs, ended Cornell’s 11-game winning streak and provided the Big Red (7–1, 2–1) with its first taste of a shutout in 15 games dating back to last season.
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The goalkeeping tandem of Katie Bolling ’11 and Charlotte Goins ’10 split time as they have all season to combine for the win. Bolling’s and Goins’s performances, along with the strong backfield play of Erin Carter ’12, Marissa Waldemore ’11 and Erica Cullum ’11, combined to allow just three shots on goal the entire game.
The Yale offense also had yet another powerful showing, generating 17 shots and 9 penalty corners against the Cornell defense. Their challenge was met by Big Red goalie Melanie Jue, a 2008 All-Ivy selection who entered the game with an .880 save percentage. Jue made seven saves in the second half alone to send the game into overtime scoreless.
Cullum received a questionable yellow card with just 25 seconds remaining in the second half, forcing the Bulldogs to enter overtime a player down.
Even so, it did not take long for the Yale defense to finish what it had started. Just 1:44 into the extra period, it was Carter, a defender, who scored the game winner, burying a feed from senior midfielder Katie Cantore ’10 in the back of the net for the sudden-death game-winner. The goal was Carter’s fourth of the season, and the assist was Cantore’s 11th of the season, placing her just three shy of Yale’s all-time single season mark.
The win was the Bulldogs’ first in three overtime chances this season.
“It was really exciting to win in OT,” Waldemore said. “We’ve fought hard in OT before, and it was nice to see it fall our way. We attacked Cornell right away in the first few minutes and didn’t give them a chance to even possess the ball. I think we went into overtime knowing we had to control the tempo, and that’s exactly what we did.”
“Winning in overtime is the most exciting way to win,” echoed midfielder Kirsten Krebs ’12. “On the other hand, losing in overtime is one of the worst feelings, a feeling that we had already experienced twice this season. We told ourselves that we wouldn’t allow another letdown and that we just needed to play with passion and persistence.”
With momentum on their side, the Elis headed to Amherst, Mass., for a showdown with the Minutewomen.
Just like Saturday’s emotional contest, Sunday proved to be a tough defensive battle. And just like it had against the Big Red, the Bulldog defense shined, yielding no goals on any of the Minutewomen’s eight penalty corners.
The only blemish on the Yale defense’s otherwise-perfect weekend came 22 minutes into the first half, when UMass’s Eileen Saffron beat the Eli backfield and poured in what would prove to be the game-winner.
Though they faced the 1–0 deficit for the rest of the game, the Bulldogs were in control for the majority of the contest. With 15 shots and 10 penalty corner attempts, the Yale offense had scoring chance after scoring chance but was simply unable to capitalize in what would have been an important win for the Elis as they look to bolster their résumé for a potential NCAA tournament run.
“I definitely think we could have won on Sunday,” Waldemore said. “It was a close game, and although UMass really stretched out our team, we were able to hold them to one goal. Although we had a lot of opportunities, we weren’t able to finish in the circle.”
Despite the disappointing outcome, the team recognizes that its ability to control the game against a perennial national powerhouse bodes well for the rest of the season.
“It shows that we have the ability to compete at the level of top ranked teams and beat UConn Sunday,” Carter said.
The Bulldogs are back in action for one game this weekend as they take on the Huskies on Sunday at Johnson Field.