Despite losing its all-time single-season assist leader and all-time leading point scorer Ashley MacCauley ’10 to graduation, the field hockey team (8–5, 3–1 Ivy), tied for second in the Ancient Eight, is poised to have one of its best seasons in school history. Two unlikely sources, freshmen Erica Borgo ’14 and Georgia Holland ’14, have been a critical component of that success in just their first eight weeks at Yale.
Borgo, who has started every game at forward for the Elis this year, leads the Bulldogs in points with five goals and five assists through 13 games while Holland is third on the team in points with four goals and five assists. Both freshmen have received Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors — Holland most recently this week following the Bulldogs’ sweep of Dartmouth and Holy Cross, her third time winning the award.
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“The level of play from high school to college is a huge jump so I did not assume anything was going to be easy,” Borgo said. “All I knew was that I wanted to be able to contribute in any way possible. Whether that was for an entire game or only for a few minutes, I wanted to make an impact when the opportunities arose.”
Borgo added three goals for the Elis in its two-win season start while Holland scored two goals of her own in just her third game of the season, a 6–0 win over Colgate. Holland also tallied two crucial goals in a key 3–2 Bulldog victory over Cornell, who is currently battling with the Elis over second place.
“I knew that both Borgo and [Holland] were great players,” head coach Pam Stuper said. “But I’m always very cautious about having any specific expectations for freshmen coming in. As a fall sport, there are so many questions about how they’ll adjust academically, athletically and socially, that it’s all about making the transition. But I knew if they could [adjust], they had a chance to step in and play a big role for us.”
Borgo and Holland both said what made that transition so easy was the leadership of Yale’s upperclassmen.
“They have helped with every adjustment possible.” Borgo said of her teammates. “From move-in and packing to classes and professors, the girls on the team have been able to answer pretty much every question I can throw at them. I know I can go to them for anything.”
Holland echoed Borgo’s sentiments. She said that the upperclassmen, whether it was giving advice about what classes to take, where to eat, or what to expect at practice, served as important role models as they tried to maintain a balance between academics and athletics.
On the field, Borgo and Holland have been able to learn from a group of returners who made up five of the top seven scorers on last year’s second-place Ivy League squad. With such a solid core of players in place, and the adjustment to the college game looming, the dynamic duo both said they could not have envisioned the success they have experienced so far this season.
“Coming in as a freshmen I definitely wanted to make an impact.” Holland said. “I didn’t know exactly how or where I would fit in, but so far everything has worked out.”
If Borgo and Holland were unsure of what to expect coming in, their play so far this season has set the bar high for the future. Stuper said that while she doesn’t want to push Holland and Borgo too hard as they continue to adjust, she has high hopes for the two rookies in the coming three years. She also added that while the two freshmen have definitely made a strong impact this season, they aren’t the only members of their class poised to make an impact in their careers.
Goalie Emily Cain ’14 — who is currently out with an injury — is 3–1 this season with a 2.57 goals against average. Midfielder Emily Schuckert ’14 has also played in every game, including seven starts, and so has Gabrielle Garcia ’14, who is transitioning from back, her high school position, to a more offensive role. Stuper added that forward Brooke Gogel ’14 brings great energy off the bench.
“Our freshman class is a great group of girls.” Borgo said. “I’m so happy to be able to have another three years with them. We definitely have a strong class overall, as seen just in this one season, and we are hoping to continue to make strides in the coming years.”
The Bulldogs have a strong foundation to build on. The team is currently second in the Ivy League and coming off a big conference win against Dartmouth on Saturday. While Yale will likely have difficulty overcoming nationally ranked No. 5 Princeton for the Ivy title, they have a chance to secure themselves at least a spot on the postseason bubble with a strong finish to the season. That quest begins Saturday when the Penn Quakers (2–11, 1–3) come to Johnson Field to take on the Bulldogs. Borgo, Holland, and the rest of the class of 2014 hope to continue the success they have had as they head into the final stretch of the 2010 season.
“The freshmen class gets along really really well.” Holland said. “We have spent a lot of time together over the past two months and have become really close. I think the combination of our friendship and hockey skill holds a really bright future for Yale field hockey.”