The field hockey team will get a chance to demonstrate just how tough they really are in a game against Harvard this Saturday.
With four teams in contention for the No. 2 slot in the Ivy League — Harvard (8-3, 3-0 Ivy), Yale (6-5, 2-1 Ivy), Penn (7-4, 2-1 Ivy) and Brown (7-4, 2-1) — the Bulldogs face a must-win situation to tie the Crimson for second place. Princeton (7-3, 4-0 Ivy), the reigning Ivy champ, is currently in first.
“The only thing standing between us and our goals right now is Harvard,” captain Francesca Gardner ’04 said. “We may be the underdog, but if we can play with the same intensity as we did against Princeton, we will win this game.”
Yale fell to the Tigers 5-4 in overtime Sept. 13. Princeton has not lost an Ivy League contest in their last 27 attempts.
To defeat the Crimson on Saturday, the Bulldog defense will have to continue to play with the same aggressiveness they have shown in recent games. Harvard’s offense is loaded, with six players scoring over 10 points thus far this season, including last week’s Ivy League Player of the Week, Shelley Maasdorp. The Crimson are also coming off a 6-0 win against fellow Ivy League competitor Cornell. Harvard’s three losses in non-conference play came against nationally ranked teams.
Despite the strength of Harvard’s frontline, the Bulldogs are anxious to prove their superiority in this weekend’s matchup. Sweeper Meredith Hudson ’05 said that they will approach the game with the same intensity they do each time they take the field.
“[Harvard] hasn’t lost, but they haven’t played us yet,” Hudson said. “Anything can happen.”
On the defensive end, the Bulldogs will work to force the ball to the outside and clear it at all costs. The Elis agree that penalty corners will play a crucial role in deciding the winner of Saturday’s game.
“On defense we need to keep our own mistakes to a minimum and limit the number of opportunities we give up,” Driscoll said. “We especially need to focus on limiting [Harvard]’s corners.”
Yale’s three-game winning streak, which includes an Oct. 11 double overtime victory over Dartmouth (1-10, 0-4 Ivy), and the standout play of its key offensive players should even the playing field against Harvard.
Trish Bissett ’07, who earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week twice this season, has been a huge presence on the frontline. Bissett is currently second on the team in goals with five, and fourth in points with 13. Midfielder Jana Halfon ’04 is tied for the third with Harvard’s Maasdorp for most points in the league with 17. Halfon’s performance will also be crucial for an Eli victory.
The Yale-Harvard matchup, which which take place at noon at Johnson Field, will conclude a seven-game home-stretch for the Bulldogs. If Yale can close their campaign with a win, they will be in good position to make a move on an Ivy championship.
“We used practice this week to prepare,” Driscoll said. “But come Saturday, it will be a matter of remembering what we work towards all season — winning the Ivy title.”