A 3-2 overtime loss in its season home opener to Sacred Heart (2-1) Saturday puts the field hockey team in a hole to repeat as East Coast Athletic Conference champion. Despite the loss, team members remain optimistic and hope to transform their initial loss into a solid work ethic and strong performances this fall.

Saturday’s game at Johnson Field marked the end of a 9-game winning streak for the program that ended last season.

Yale (0-1) held a 2-0 lead throughout the first half after goals by Elizabeth Topp ’05 and Meredith Howell ’05. The momentum changed hands in the second half, when Sacred Heart stormed back with 2 goals, including one by Colleen Carney just 43.5 seconds before the end of the period. Sacred Heart’s Christy Bobe scored the game-winning goal 3:28 into overtime.

Head coach Ainslee Lamb said the team grew complacent after a strong first half performance against Sacred Heart, a team which has not been considered a threat to the Bulldog squad in the past.

“We played well in the first half, but in the second half we played not to lose,” Lamb said. “When you play not to lose, you probably lose.”

Midfielder Brooke Worthington ’04 said the biggest problem was that Yale did not put in the work necessary to maintain its lead.

“Basically, anything can happen in field hockey, and Sacred Heart really wanted to win,” Worthington said. “They’re definitely a better team than they have been in the past.”

Team members were displeased with their loss and vow to work assiduously as they prepare for their upcoming games against the University of Rhode Island on Wednesday and at perennial Ivy League threat Princeton next Saturday. Lamb said there were no major mistakes from Saturday’s game that need to be fixed, except for less-than-stellar effort on Yale’s part.

“We just got outworked,” Lamb said.

Although some important seniors from last year, including goalkeeper Wendy Ketner ’03, have now graduated, this year’s team boasts both outstanding senior leadership and freshmen recruits.

“We definitely have a very strong class of recruits,” Worthington said. “The group [Lamb] brought in is really strong. Two of them started, which is really awesome. We have a lot of depth to our team.”

Lamb praised team captain Fran Gardner’s ’04 leadership and said that it is indicative of strong leadership throughout the team.

“We have good bookends [in our freshman and senior classes], not that the middle is weak,” Lamb said.

And despite the end of a long winning streak, Lamb said nothing would stand in the way of a record-breaking season except the players themselves.

“The kids were more upset about [the end of the streak] than I was,” Lamb said. “We have to start new for a new year. Everything’s in place, they just have to have the desire.”