Field hockey midfielder Sarah Driscoll ’05 is on a tear.
In Yale’s (9-7, 2-4 Ivy) weekend sweep of Columbia and Fairfield, Driscoll recorded seven points. The two wins extend Yale’s winning streak to six, the longest current unbeaten streak in the Ivy League. Driscoll has scored at least one point in each game during this run.
“Sarah [Driscoll] is an energizer bunny,” Marly Gillece ’06 said. “She has energy coming out of her ears.”
Yale is 8-1 when Driscoll has an assist or a goal.
The Bulldogs have been unstoppable since Oct. 9, compiling an 8-1 record with three shutouts. During this span, the Bulldogs have outscored their opponents 19-9. The team began its turnaround during a West Coast sweep against Pacific University and Stanford from Oct. 18 to 20.
“California was the turning point of our season,” Jana Halfon ’04 said. “We saw that we could do it.”
Yale began the season 2-5. Since then, the Elis have won in every way possible: close matches, blowouts and stroke-outs. The Eli backfield has dominated lately, not allowing a tally in more than 180 consecutive minutes. That scoreless streak finally ended Sunday against Fairfield.
“The defense is the no glory position, but we’ve a strong defense the entire season, with [Meredith Hudson ’05] as the anchor and Spike [Nesburg ’04] behind the pipes,” Gillece said. “Our problem had been putting the ball in the net, but it’s all coming together now.”
The defense did not have to be as stingy during the Bulldogs’ 6-2 win over the Fairfield Stags, because the Eli attack exploded for six goals, a single-game high this season.
Hudson had three goals and an assist. Earlier in the week, Hudson recorded her first career hat trick.
The Bulldogs burst out with an offensive flurry in the first half, scoring thrice in a three-minute span. All the first-half Eli tallies came off penalty corners.
“When we get a corner, I will push it out to Sarah [Driscoll],” Halfon said. “She will stop it and set it up for one of two hitters to get it on goal. Our success [on corners] has been our consistency.”
Hudson and Suzanne Anthony ’03 are Yale’s two hitters, or ball strikers, on penalty shots.
Hudson started the scoring by connecting on passes from Driscoll and Halfon to put Yale in front 1-0. At 10:37, it was Hudson’s turn as she set up Driscoll’s goal. The duo switched back less than two minutes later as Hudson’s tally put Yale up 3-0.
Fairfield finally answered back at 13:23 as Julie Knoblich fed a ball to Kiara Nickl who snuck it past Nesburg.
The Bulldogs emerged from halftime surging with energy and scored another three goals in a row.
“When we put our corner team on the line, like we did [yesterday] we have a good opportunity to score, especially with [Hudson] taking straight shots,” Gillece said.
Yale executed its fourth corner play of the day at 41:10 as Hudson completed the hat trick with help from Driscoll and Halfon. Stephanie Dolmat-Connell ’04 and Fran Gardner ’04 each added an unassisted goal.
Dani Brown cut the lead to 6-2 at 61:23 when she converted a pass from Megan Moynihan, but the Stags did not get any closer.
Dolmat-Connell’s unassisted tally broke a remarkable streak for Driscoll. Prior to that play, Driscoll had been involved in 12 straight Eli goals, contributing either an assist or the goal itself. The streak dated back to the first half of the Oct. 20 game against Stanford.
And the streak covered Driscoll’s two assists in Yale’s 2-0 win over Columbia on Friday that was highlighted by Anthony’s spectacular performance.
The Lions entered the contest locked in a tailspin. After opening 3-3, Columbia has gone on to lose nine in a row.
Since 1999, the Bulldogs are a perfect 4-0 against the Light Blue. Columbia could not have come at a better time on the Eli schedule because the Bulldogs needed a win on Friday to break .500 for the first time this season.Considering their past dominance and the Lions’ current ineptness, the Bulldogs seemed poised hand the Lions their 10th straight defeat, and they did.
Prior to the game, Anthony, Brigid Boland ’03, Wendy Kertner ’03 and captain Rachel Burnes ’03 were honored in Senior Day ceremonies. Appropriately, Anthony took the field with a vengeance once the match began.
The Eli forward put Yale on the board with 20:24 remaining in the first half. It was her first tally of the season. And then Anthony scored off another penalty corner in the closing minutes of the game.
“It was wonderful to see her score,” Halfon said.
By winning both games this weekend, the Bulldogs inched closer to an ECAC playoff berth.
“We are just feeding off the six wins right now. We definitely want to make it to the ECACs,” Halfon said. “We deserve it as a team. All the work we put in is finally paying off.”
There are two components to qualify for the ECACs: a winning record and an upper-half finish in the league. Nationally-ranked Harvard could qualify for the NCAAs, and if the Crimson opt to play in that tourney, they will forfeit their ECAC berth. Because Yale is fifth in the Ivy League, Harvard’s NCAA participation would bump Yale into the ECACs.
But any postseason is contingent upon a Nov. 9 win in Yale’s regular season finale against Brown.
“We won’t have a problem coming up with a whole lot of enthusiasm for the Brown game,” Gillece said.