The field hockey team seeks to rebound this weekend from a difficult season start. Yale began the year with a 3-2 overtime loss to Sacred Heart University, a narrow 1-0 victory over the University of Rhode Island and a heartbreaking 5-4 overtime loss to perennial Ivy League power Princeton last Saturday.
Away games on Friday night at the University of New Hampshire and Sunday at Boston University present a challenging weekend for the Bulldogs (1-2), who hope to maintain their energy from the Princeton game. Trailing the Tigers 4-2 last Saturday with approximately four minutes remaining, the Elis fought back to tie the game before succumbing to Princeton in the extra period.
The New Hampshire Wildcats (2-4) have been a tough opponent for Yale in past years; last September, the host Wildcats defeated the Elis 5-1. Yale has not beaten New Hampshire since 1998, when the Elis won 4-2 in New Haven. Over the last four seasons, New Hampshire has outscored Yale 13-5, winning the last four annual contests.
Nor are the Boston University Terriers (3-2) slouches, either. The Terriers are ranked No. 17 in a recent National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll — just several places below No. 10 Princeton (3-1). Yale fell to visiting Boston 1-0 last October and 5-3 in 2001, the first time the programs met in recent years.
Bulldog forward Stephanie Dolmat-Connell ’04 said Yale has the energy necessary for two hard-fought but winnable games, after the big finish last Saturday against the Princeton Tigers.
“We are really looking forward to [our two games this weekend],” Dolmat-Connell said. “We are excited about the way we played at Princeton. That should translate to [playing well] this weekend.”
Playing New Hampshire tonight under the lights should help the Bulldogs; Yale’s sole win this season came at nighttime over Rhode Island Sept. 10.
Team members said they were excited after their game at Princeton; their play in New Jersey improved significantly from that in the first two games. When playing Princeton, Yale finally showed a strong desire to win and could have eked out the victory.
The team has come along way since its first two games, rookie midfielder Lindsay Collins ’07 said.
“We’ve finally gotten over that hump, as long as we keep up our momentum,” she said.
The traveling Bulldogs will need to pull out all the stops this weekend, after losing to both Boston and New Hampshire last season despite home advantage. Yale also faced both squads on separate weekends last fall; fatigue could be a factor.
Head coach Ainslee Lamb said she has full confidence in the Bulldogs, who are ready to put the past behind them this weekend.
“The history [of our record against these opponents] doesn’t matter,” Lamb said. “This team is just ready for the present. That was the value of the Sacred Heart game. You can’t rest on your laurels.”
A slow start is nothing new to the Bulldogs; last autumn, Yale began the season 2-6 before finishing the season by winning 10 of its last 11 games and sweeping the postseason ECAC Tournament 2-0.
But Lamb cautioned that it would take consistent effort against both teams to achieve victories.
“For me, we’re going into both games as the underdogs,” Lamb said. “But that doesn’t make us lose any confidence.”
Team members said they are much more confident in their playing skills after working on an aggressive offensive line, consistent corner shots and solid goal shots during recent practices. New Hampshire is known, in particular, as a fast, athletic team. But the Bulldogs say they are ready for anything.
The team will spend the weekend away from New Haven for the Durham, N.H., game tonight and the Boston game on Sunday. But Lamb said more time together as a team will be beneficial for the Bulldogs.
“[Playing two away games] is an opportunity to bond off the field,” Lamb said. “Because it’s only once a year, it won’t be too bad. We’re fortunate to be in such a central location.”