Seventy-five minutes had elapsed Saturday, and Yale field hockey players found themselves in a dauntingly familiar situation.
They crouched, huddled around head coach Ainslee Lamb as they prepared for overtime. Captain Caroline Thompson ’02 lay on the turf as trainer Patty Ponce stretched her hamstring.
Yale had won only one of its five overtime appearances this season, and the players desperately wanted to close out their schedule by reversing this all-too-common trend.
But on a warm Saturday afternoon, Brown (8-8, 3-3 Ivy) overcame Yale (7-9, 1-5) in dramatic fashion with a bouncing goal late in double overtime, winning 3-2.
It was Senior Day for Bulldog players at Johnson Field, and Erin Tennyson ’02 appropriately opened up scoring with an early unassisted goal at 18:42. Yale dominated Brown during the first half, holding the Bears to just seven shots compared with its 16.
Yale entered the second half strong with Tennyson scoring again just minutes into the period. Her goal, which put the Bulldogs up 2-0, gave her a total of five goals for the season.
The Bears got on the board seven minutes after Tennyson’s goal, when Laurel Pierpont scored on a penalty corner, narrowing the deficit to one goal, at 24:07.
Possibly sensing a shift in momentum, Lamb called a timeout. Her team had faltered days earlier against Princeton.
“Step on the field and play to win,” Lamb yelled at the players huddled around her.
Yale continued its strong play after the timeout and outshot Brown 14-8 in the second half.
It looked as if the Bulldogs would run away with their second Ivy victory of the season, but Brown, with a little help from the crossbar, mounted a late-game comeback.
With just five minutes remaining in the game, Brown forward Meaghan Harwood scored a breakaway goal to tie the score 2-2.
Yale nearly won the game on a penalty corner as the clock wound down. Thompson fired a hard shot at the Brown goal, but the ball clanked off the cross-post. The senior pounded her stick into the turf in frustration and attempted another corner shot to no avail.
After a tension filled first overtime period, Brown’s Cory Pelletier took a shot that hopped just past goalkeeper Krissy Nesburg ’04, giving the Bears the victory at 13:22 in the second overtime.
The crowd of 300, which had been vocal throughout the game, was suddenly quiet as Yale players made their way off the field in disbelief, many with tears in their eyes. This season has been somewhat disappointing for the Bulldogs, who have struggled despite being a very competitive team.
“I am disappointed because I don’t think our record reflects how good we are,” Lamb said after the game. “And I am disappointed because our players deserved better than that.”
This season, Yale players have complained about a lack of urgency on the team as responsible for their late-games woes. In five of their eight losses, the Bulldogs led going into the second half. Although Lamb said that she did not question her players’ intensity, she said that the team’s problem was psychological.
“We just can’t get over that edge,” she said. “There is not much we can do differently [in terms of physical preparation]. They just have an individual responsibility to want it more.”
The season was one of growth, however, for the Bulldog field hockey program. Last year, Yale finished the fall season 3-14. This Yale team has been competitive with top national programs such as Princeton, Harvard, Dartmouth, and Boston University.
“This season was positive,” said Nesburg, who made several acrobatic saves late in the game to keep Yale alive. “All of the pieces are in place for us to step forward as a program.”
Lamb credited the senior leadership of Thompson, Tennyson, Tovia Martirosian and Kara Nesburg, for the Bulldogs’ improvement.
“The seniors are the ones with that [winning] mentality,” she said. “I credit this senior class with putting us in the right direction.”