Heading into Hanover, N.H., for this weekend’s field hockey match against Dartmouth, the Bulldogs knew they lacked the momentum that had propelled their opponents to a strong 4-0 start earlier this season — one of the best in their program’s history.
Riding this tide of success, Dartmouth (6-2, 3-1 Ivy) defeated Yale (0-10, 0-3 Ivy) 4-2 Saturday, notching its third Ivy win. Despite their strong play, the Elis were once again unable to bring home a victory.
“It seemed that they were on top of things, but they just couldn’t finish plays,” Dartmouth forward Lauren Welsh said of the Bulldogs. Welsh led Dartmouth’s scoring attack against Yale, netting two goals and adding an assist.
“It was a very tough match compared to our other Ivy games … We had to focus coming against Yale.”
The Bulldogs outshot their opponents for the second time this season — firing off 11 attempts to Dartmouth’s 10. But the Elis remained unable to improve their scoring percentage.
At this stage in the season with seven games left, good performances are not offering the Bulldogs much consolation when such play is not accompanied by winning results.
“Now, despite our high level of play, it is hard not to be disappointed when we are still producing losses,” defender Lori Collins ’01 said. “Our performance looks really good, but there are just no results. We have everything we need to be successful — there is nothing we can change that will give us automatic wins. As a team, we just need to expect to get successes more.”
As the statistics show, there is no reason the Bulldogs should not expect success. Freshman goalkeeper Krissy Nesburg leads the Ivy League in saves, breaking the century mark this week. Midfielder Christine Anthony ’01 made the Ivy Honor Roll last week for scoring an unassisted goal in Yale’s narrow 2-1 loss to Cornell.
Dartmouth started its season afresh with a new coaching staff and seven particularly talented freshmen. Having won the ECAC championships last year with a school-record 14 victories, the Big Green has moved from strength to strength. Last week freshman Rebekka Stucker was the Ivy Rookie of the Week, already placing third on her team with nine points (3 goals, 3 assists). Sophomore Lisa Thomas received Honor Roll mention.
In keeping with their usual pattern, the Bulldogs played strongly in the first half entering halftime at a 1-1 tie. Forward Suzanne Anthony ’03 responded to Dartmouth’s first goal within minutes, making her team-leading fourth goal of the season.
Christine Anthony scored the Bulldogs’ second goal by netting a cross pass from Suzanne Anthony at 19.04 in the second half.
“For the most part, we were working hard, it was a competitive game that shifted from us outplaying them to them outplaying us,” Collins said. “Like any of our games this season, it was a game we definitely could’ve won.”
In the second half, Dartmouth converted three penalty corners into goals, while Yale was unable to capitalize on any of its seven corners.
“We’re not executing our short corners well,” captain Anne Rippetoe ’01 said. “The initial shots aren’t going in, or a lot of the time, people will take shots but other teams will end up getting the rebound. We aren’t scoring when we have an advantage.”
While offensive short corners are not producing goals, the Bulldogs are also letting defensive corners slip by.
“Almost all of the goals scored on us in Ivy games have been on short corners,” Rippetoe said. “We’re not marking well, yet, because they are set plays, we can practice and figure out how to defend them better.”
Collins also emphasized that the Bulldogs are not showing enough intensity after the starting whistle or after their opponents have taken the lead.
“We just don’t have that sense of urgency right from the start,” Collins said. “We never score first in games, and once we are down more than one goal, we don’t know how to respond as well as we should.”
Despite the hard effort the Bulldogs have put into their season, along with numerous attempts to modify and improve their game, it is difficult to point to one definite problem that prevents them from netting the goals to win.
“It is mentally challenging and draining for a lot of people on the team,” Rippetoe said. “People are thinking so hard, trying to analyze our mistakes, and that might be part of our problem in the circle. We are waiting for the perfect moment and the perfect play.”
Now the girls must take a different approach to their season.
“We had goals at the beginning of the season that aren’t really realistic anymore,” Suzanne Anthony said. “Now our goal is just to win a game. We are taking each game one at a time.”
Rippetoe agreed that at this point, what matters to the Bulldogs is proving their ability to those who matter most — themselves.
“People aren’t looking so much at the overall picture,” Rippetoe said. “We just want to play well for ourselves, and not worry so much what other teams are doing. We all still have the same goals, and will come together to work together. Everyone wants to make the next four weeks the best they can possibly be.”