This week, three Yale teams hoped they would be playing well past the end of their regular seasons.
For two of those three teams, that wish came true last week when the women’s soccer team (12-5-2, 3-3-1 Ivy) learned it would receive its first-ever NCAA tournament bid and the field hockey team (11-8, 5-4) qualified for the ECAC championships. With a 1-0 loss to Princeton Saturday, the men’s soccer team’s (9-7-1, 2-5-1) postseason chances are slim.
“It wasn’t for sure that we were going to make it,” field hockey captain Rachel Burnes ’03 said. “We had no clue.”
Tied with Cornell for fourth in the Ivy League at the end of the season, the team was not sure if it would qualify for ECACs, which the team has not done since 1998 when the Elis won the conference title. The team finally heard the good news Wednesday afternoon in an e-mail from their coach.
Although it entered the conference as the fourth and last seed, the field hockey team clinched the ECAC championship this weekend by defeating Dartmouth 3-1 in the semifinals Friday and Drexel 1-0 in the finals Sunday.
The strong end to the season provided a great contrast with the Bulldogs’ record earlier on in the season. The beginning of the season left the field hockey team with a 2-6 record that was hard to overcome.
Describing what finally pushed the team to win seven games in a row, Burnes said, “I think it’s just frustration from losing.”
In the middle of the season, the Elis took a trip to California to play Pacific University and Stanford University, winning both games.
“That is what the turning point was,” Burnes said. “Once you start winning, it’s so easy to keep winning since you have that confidence.”
The field hockey girls were not the only ones who were smiling for the last week.
The girls on the women’s soccer team and their coaches were glued to the screen as they watched ESPNNEWS at Eli’s on Whitney in Hamden last week. When they saw “Yale” appear on the screen, the celebration began, but it did not last too long.
After hearing the news, the girls headed over to the field to get in some more practice time before representing the Bulldogs in their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.
The practice paid off as the Elis defeated Villanova in the first round 1-0 on Friday. But the team lost to Nebraska 1-0 in the second round Sunday.
The men’s soccer team is less optimistic about a possible postseason. The team’s hopes for making the NCAA tournament rested on obtaining a victory over Princeton on Saturday. In defeating the Bulldogs 1-0, the Tigers most likely stole Yale’s shot at a postseason.
“I’d be really surprised [if we make the tournament],” midfielder Shannon Brooks ’06 said. “It’s a longshot.”
After Princeton scored early in the game, Yale failed to follow through on its shots.
“We just kind of missed some opportunities,” Brooks said.
Members of the team seem to be pessimistic after Saturday’s defeat.
“I think most people just feel like we blew our shot,” forward Marc Vimolratana ’06 said. “It’s not realistic for us to make it since we lost the game.”
Nevertheless, the team is planning to meet at the field house at 4 p.m. on Monday for a regular practice. They might also watch the brackets be released, Brooks said.