The field hockey team is struggling to get out of a slump after losing its last three games to tough, nationally-ranked opponents.
A 5-4 overtime loss at No. 10 Princeton two Saturdays ago, continuing with a 5-3 defeat at the hands of the University of New Hampshire and a close 1-0 loss to No. 18 Boston University last weekend have made things difficult for the Bulldogs. But the Elis hope to turn things around this weekend in games against Cornell (2-4, 1-1 Ivy) Saturday and the University of Vermont (1-7) on Sunday.
Yale (1-4, 0-1 Ivy) has a tradition of close games against both Cornell and Vermont in recent years. The last time Yale played Cornell, the Bulldogs lost 2-1, while Yale defeated Vermont 2-1 when the two teams competed last season.
Team captain and midfielder Fran Gardner ’04 said the Bulldogs want to win both games, but for the moment they are focusing on Cornell.
“We are really well-prepared, but we just look one game ahead,” Gardner said. “Cornell is obviously the Ivy League team, so we are looking forward to it.”
Gardner also said Yale will not need to change its tactics significantly for the upcoming games, focusing instead on speed since the Big Red are reputedly fast and very fit this year.
“We’ve been running — we did a workout just to get back on our feet,” Gardner said. “We’ve been working on speed and efficiency in our attacks. We need to capitalize on our [scoring] opportunities.”
Yale head coach Ainslee Lamb said the Bulldogs have not beaten Cornell in the eight years she has held her position — but she thinks this is the year to change that.
“I think, as usual, I will prepare the kids [to recognize that] they can’t underestimate their opponent, but we’re a better team,” Lamb said.
Lamb also said Yale has been shoring up its defensive game. Yale uses a zone defense within 35 yards of the goal, and a man-to-man defense farther from the goal.
Cornell, like Yale, has lost its last three games. Team members say they will bring the same intensity to the Saturday match that they displayed in their last Ivy League game at Princeton.
The two losses last weekend were not entirely unsurprising for the Bulldogs, who have not won games against either opponent in recent years. Lamb said the Bulldogs went into both games as underdogs, and performed admirably against such strong opponents.
“I was proud of us this weekend,” Lamb said. “We brought BU down in rank [from 12th place to 18th place in Division I].”
Gardner said the Bulldogs would be much more disappointed had all their losses been against Ivy schools.
“The thing we had to keep telling ourselves was although those losses were heartbreaking, they have nothing to do with our ultimate goal — to win the Ivy Title,” Gardner said.
Yale team members said the losses highlighted areas of their game that required improvement. But for now, Yale really wants a win.
“Every year, this is a great game, a really good battle,” Lamb said. “They’re in the same position as we are — this is a pivotal game for both of us.”