In the bitter-cold days of winter, it takes a car a few minutes to warm up to peak performance. The same might be said for athletes in cold weather competition.
At noon Saturday at Johnson Field, it took the field hockey team a while to warm up to the cold conditions and really start playing its game. The Bulldogs revved up the engine, though, coming back from a 1-0 deficit at the half to defeat conference rival Brown 3-0.
The win secured a second-place finish in the Ivy League for Yale and a highly probable ticket to the ECAC tournament this weekend. The Bulldogs finished their season 11-6 overall and 5-2 conference, while the Bears dropped to 11-6 and 4-3 Ivy.
While both teams started out slowly, going scoreless for most of the first half, the Bears held the upper-hand on the offensive side, outshooting the Bulldogs 11-2. The outstanding play of four-year veteran goalkeeper, Krissy Nesburg ’04 kept the damage to a minimum, as Brown only managed to score a single goal in the last moments of the half on an unassisted shot from Lizzie Buza. According to teammates, center-back Maureen Braun ’04 and midfielder Chrissy Hall ’05 also had notable defensive performances.
The Bears’ initial lead did not deter the Bulldogs from a come-from-behind surge to victory.
“We never let down, even when [Brown] was up 1-0 at half-time,” sweeper Meredith Hudson ’05 said. “We had come back before from even bigger deficits, so we knew the game wasn’t over.”
The Elis ignited their offense immediately in the second half with midfielder Jana Halfon’s ’04 unassisted goal from the top of the circle at 30:37. Yale continued to build momentum, keeping to its game-plan of brisk two-touch passing and driving the ball out of the Bulldog backfield with possession.
The Bulldogs claimed the lead when midfielder Sarah Driscoll ’05 assisted forward Buffy Topp ’05 on a goal off of a penalty corner at 23:30. Hudson scored again at 18:20 off of another corner to increase the Bulldog lead to two, clinching a fifth-straight Eli victory. Halfon and Driscoll both received assists on Hudson’s goal.
Nesburg finished the game with six saves, while her Brown counterpart finished with one. Brown outshot Yale 17-7 in the match and also beat the Elis in penalty corners, with seven to Yale’s six.
The contest against Brown marked the final home game for the class of 2004. Seniors Nesburg, Brooke Worthington ’04, Stephanie Dolmat-Connell ’04, Braun, Halfon, and captain Fran Gardner ’04 were all honored before the game.
“We won the game with all the seniors on the field,” head coach Ainslee Lamb said. “This victory is a tribute to the tremendous contributions they have made to this program.”
The Bulldogs now await the announcement of ECAC participants, which will take place tomorrow. Should Yale get an invitation, they will have the chance to compete for the first-ever back-to-back title at the tournament.
“We are definitely all psyched up for this weekend and want to end this season like we did last season,” Topp said. “It is always harder to win the second time around, but this year’s team is definitely up for the challenge.”
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