The field hockey team finally earned its first Ivy League victory — but it had to go beyond overtime to do so.
On Saturday at Johnson Field, 100 minutes elapsed — 70 regulation minutes and two 15-minute sudden-death overtime periods — and Yale (6-7, 1-4 Ivy) and the University of Pennsylvania (5-9, 1-4) remained tied 1-1. The contest came down to a nail biting stroke-off where goals from Sarah Driscoll ’05 and Elizabeth Topp ’05 sealed the Eli win.
“Obviously a win is a win, and defining it as such after two overtime periods and strokes is a complete rush,” captain Rachel Burnes ’03 said.
In the best-of-five stroke-off, the two teams alternated between 10 penalty shots. A penalty shot pits an offensive player against the opposing goalie in a one-on-one situation. Liz Lorelli scored Penn’s lone goal while Driscoll and Topp each scored for Yale. The 2-1 stroke-off advantage counts as a single team goal in Yale’s 2-1 victory.
Saturday marked the 26th meeting between the two teams. The Quakers entered the contest with a 16-7-2 series advantage over Yale, but the Bulldogs chucked history out the door at the face-off.
Both defensive lines thoroughly controlled play in the first half. The teams combined for 14 shots, but the backfields turned away every attack. The squads entered halftime locked in a scoreless tie.
“We had a great combination of strong one-on-one defensive play and transfer out of our defensive zone,” Burnes said.
The offensive drought finally ended at 22:22 as Ivy League Player of the Week Lorelli scored in her fourth consecutive game for the Quakers. Earlier in the week, Lorelli recorded her first career hat trick en route to a seven-point performance in the Quakers’ 6-3 win over La Salle.
After Lorelli’s tally, the Penn defense tried to clamp down. But with five minutes remaining in the game, the Bulldogs pieced together an attack.
With the clock at 4:43, midfielder Driscoll rifled an unassisted shot just under the reach of the rookie Quaker goalie Amanda Jacobs.
The score remained 1-1 at the end of regulation. In overtime, the backfields again dictated the tempo as neither team could scratch across a goal during either extra period.
In the stroke-off, Driscoll and Topp gave Yale the win.
This game was the third consecutive Yale-Penn matchup that was tied at the end of regulation. In 2001, the Bulldogs suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to the Quakers.
The Bulldogs stressed that Saturday’s win was a team victory; every Eli player stepped up with verve and aggressiveness that was visibly lacking during the early part of the season.
“The team is finally coming together,” Marly Gillece ’06 said. “We are able to anticipate each other’s moves and play with each other tighter than before, as a result.”
After a 2-6 start, the Bulldogs have undergone a remarkable turnaround, winning four of their last five games.
Stuck in an offensive malaise for most of the season, the Bulldog attack finally came alive on the West Coast in a two-game road series sweep where Yale scored five times.
On Oct. 5, Yale realigned its offense against Boston University, moving an extra forward to the front line. So far, the 3-3-3-1 formation has worked.
“We have taken a while to get into the groove, but we were also getting acquainted with a new field plan,” Gillece said. “We added an extra player to our forward line, which has increased our scoring ability on attack.”
The Penn game came at a crucial juncture in Yale’s schedule. After their West Coast series, the Bulldogs were two games off .500.
Yale has four games left this season and a chance to finish with a winning record for the first time since 1998, when Yale went 15-4 and won the ECAC championship. A winning record is required for making the ECAC tournament.
“The Yale field hockey team is on a powerful upswing, and we aren’t stopping now,” Gillece said. “Every player is pushing harder than ever to reach our season goals, which include making ECAC’s.”
Yale’s home game against Sacred Heart scheduled for this past Sunday was postponed to Tuesday night.