Last year was a rebuilding one for the field hockey team. The Bulldogs lost the first 10 games of head coach Ainslee Lamb’s inaugural season and finished at 3-14 (2-5 Ivy).
This year, Yale has already topped that win total — in fact, the team has doubled it, with a 6-6 record (0-3 Ivy) to date.
A big reason for the dramatic turnaround is the Bulldogs’ ability to defeat teams over which they have a clear advantage. Yale has already registered three shutouts — against Vermont, Rhode Island and Quinnipiac — to go along with decisive victories over Sacred Heart and Bucknell. But while it eked out a 4-3 overtime nail-biter against Fairfield, Yale has had difficulty winning close games against tougher teams.
The Elis have fallen 3-2 in each of their last three losses — two of which were against Ivy foes Harvard and Dartmouth — and two of the Bulldogs’ other three losses have been in overtime. With a few breaks here and there, the Elis very well might have been atop the standings and in position to have a banner year.
As it is, though, Yale will have to learn to play more consistently. The Bulldogs, who have a penchant for fast starts, have suffered from a second-half syndrome that seems to sap their collective strength during long and critical stretches. In all three of its Ivy League games, Yale has taken an early lead only to see it vanish after untimely offensive droughts and defensive lapses.
Nonetheless, the team’s improvements are remarkable. The Bulldogs have balanced their scoring attack with significant contributions from Jana Halfon ’04 (6 goals, 3 assists, 15 points), freshman sensation Sarah Driscoll ’05 (4-6-14), captain Caroline Thompson ’02 (6-1-13), Stephanie Dolmat-Connell ’04 (5-2-12) and Suzanne Anthony ’03 (4-1-9). Even defensive stalwart Tovia Martirosian ’02 has gotten into the offensive action with eight points.
In the goal, Krissy Nesburg ’04 has stopped 80 percent of the shots she has faced.
With five games remaining, including four league matches, the Bulldogs could make a run to finish in the top half of the Ancient Eight’s standings. After last year’s performance, that would be quite an accomplishment.