FIELD HOCKEY | Bulldogs finish in fourth

The field hockey seniors set a school record for most conference wins in four years with 20.
The field hockey seniors set a school record for most conference wins in four years with 20. Photo by Brianne Bowen.

The field hockey team surrendered the Ancient Eight crown this weekend, but refused to go quietly in its season finale.

The Bulldogs (6–11, 3–4 Ivy) defeated Brown (6–11, 1–6 Ivy) on Saturday with a 2–1 comeback victory. The win marked the 20th Ivy victory for the graduating class, which set a new school record for most wins in four years. The seniors suffered only eight losses in league play during their collegiate careers. Last year, the Elis claimed the team’s first Ivy League title in 31 years, but were unable to repeat their championship run this season.

Throughout their final game, the Elis applied constant pressure on the Bear defense. They poured on a total of seven shots in the first half and nine in the second.

“We had a pretty consistent attack for most of the game, getting shots, putting pressure on their defense,” back Molly Wolf ’16 said.

But Brown goalkeeper Shannon McSweeney made four of her 10 saves in the first half and the Bears took a 1–0 advantage late into the game after opening the scoring in the 24th minute.

Back Megan Kirkham ’15 credited McSweeney with preserving the Bears’ lead. By the 60th minute, the Bulldogs had outshot Brown 14–6 but still trailed by one, and Yale head coach Pamela Stuper was forced to call a timeout.

“Basically, I just told [the players] that they needed to relax,” Stuper said. “We were just trying so hard that we weren’t staying composed and poised within the game to actually execute … so I just talked to them about slowing the game down.”

Only a minute later, the Bulldogs put away the tying goal. Forward Jessie Accurso ’15 received a cross from captain Maddy Sharp ’13 and tipped it in from the left side of the goal.

The Bulldogs capitalized on their momentum and found the net once again only seven minutes later. Though Brown had kept Yale scoreless on eight penalty corners through both halves, the Bears defense faltered on the ninth. Wolf, who was credited with four of Yale’s 10 shots on net, scored her second career goal off a direct shot from the penalty corner. Midfielders Mary Beth Barham ’13 and Erica Borgo ’14 were awarded assists on the play.

“Our team is definitely not one to give up, so we kept battling until the final whistle,” Wolf said. “Getting a corner call so late in the game was a great opportunity for us, and we knew that if we executed it we would be successful.”

Over the course of the game, Yale earned nine penalty corners to Brown’s zero and outshot the Bears 16–6.

With the tables turned, the Bears pulled McSweeney in the final two minutes. But the Bulldog defense held strong despite the added pressure of a kicking back, and Brown was unable to manage any more shots.

The clock ran down, the final whistle blew and the season came to an end.

Though the Bulldogs must hand over their Ivy League title to former co-champion Princeton, the team’s success this year could be measured by its ability to play through a difficult schedule. Yale faced six of the top 21 teams in the country, including four of the top six.

In addition, just three games into the season, midfielder Georgia Holland ’14, who was a first team All-Ivy selection last year, suffered a torn ACL and was lost for the season.

“A few weeks ago, we could’ve just packed it in and said we’re just not good this year,” Stuper said. “I think what’s tribute to the team is that they chose not to do that — they chose to come out every Monday at the start of a new week and tried to figure out what it was that we needed to do to win next weekend’s games. It showed a lot about the character of this team and the direction of the future.”

Playing against nationally ranked teams only contributed to making the team better, Kirkham said. Stuper added that the team’s improvement was visible and the Bulldogs regrouped from its early season struggles, battling all the way through the 70th minute of Saturday’s game.

“The quality of our play reached its zenith during the last two weeks of season, and it was great my collegiate sports career ended on a high note,” Sharp said.

Yale finished the season in a fourth-place tie with Penn and Cornell.

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