The field hockey team has a chance to rewrite the history books this weekend when it battles the Penn Quakers for the 2003 ECAC Tournament championship. On noon Saturday at Johnson Field, the Bulldogs will not only compete to be this year’s victor, but they will also fight to earn the first ever back-to-back title at the tournament. The game will mark the Quakers’ first appearance in the ECAC’s postseason since their 1997 season.

Yale (11-6, 5-2 Ivy), seeded No. 1 in the tournament, will enter the game after ending its regular season with a five-game winning streak. The Quakers (10-7, 3-4) have also garnered a respectable season this fall, finishing with their best record in six years.

Despite Penn’s success, the Bulldogs like their chances at earning a repeat.

“As a team yesterday we had an amazing practice,” midfielder Buffy Topp ’05 said. “I think that was a great indication of how much this team wants to win ECACs on Saturday.”

In its conference contest against the Quakers on Oct. 26 in Philadelphia, Yale eked out a 2-1 win on goals from 2003 All-Ivy honorees Jana Halfon ’04 and captain Fran Gardner ’04. On Tuesday Halfon was unanimously selected to the All-Ivy first team along with teammate Krissy Nesburg ’04. Gardner, sweeper Meredith Hudson ’05, midfielder Sarah Driscoll ’05, and rookie Trish Bissett ’07 earned All-Ivy honorable mention.

Yale’s Oct. 26th victory snapped Penn’s seven-game winning streak and the Quakers went on to notch two more losses in their final three conference games. Saturday’s contest should be a grueling match, with the Quakers will try to avenge their earlier loss.

“Penn is out for revenge,” Hudson said. “Everyone knows that Ivy games, and especially ECAC games end up coming down to who shows up and wants to win more than the other team. Penn wants this win just as badly as we do.”

Once again the Bulldogs will have to neutralize the play of Quaker standout Liz Lorelli, who leads the Ivy League this season in goals scored with 18 and points with 39. Yale defender Emily Palilonis ’07 managed to keep Lorelli scoreless in their earlier meeting, and if the Bulldog defense can post a similar performance, their chances will be greatly increased.

“I’m sure Liz Lorelli will be looking to score,” midfielder Meredith Howell ’05 said. “But Emily will do an amazing job of shutting her down, just like she did a few weeks ago.”

Limiting Quaker penalty corners will be another crucial part of Saturday’s game.

On the offensive end, Yale will need to score early and stick to its strategy of two-touch passing in Quaker territory.

“It would be great to score early and take the wind out of their sails in the first half,” Bissett said. “We can’t have even a minute of let-down anywhere on the field. We know that it’s going to be a tough game, and it’s important that we don’t underestimate them just because we’ve beaten them previously.”

Whether or not Yale comes out victorious on Saturday, the Bulldogs feel their 2003 campaign has been a successful one. A win would simply be an added bonus.

“Obviously our goal is to win the game,” Bissett said. “But I feel that as long as we try our hardest and we don’t leave the field with any regrets I’ll be happy.”

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