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The start to the field hockey team’s 2004 season was a reversal of fortune from the start of its 2003 campaign.

At Johnson Field this weekend, Yale (1-1) defeated Sacred Heart (1-3) 3-2 in contrast to last year’s overtime thriller. However, on Sunday the Elis fell 3-2 to Holy Cross (3-0), a squad they have dominated in the past.

“We obviously wanted to come out undefeated, and unfortunately that didn’t happen,” midfielder Lindsay Collins ’07 said. “But we know what we’re doing, we know our mistakes and we know what we need to do.”

Friday was a high-pressure game for the Bulldogs; not only did they host the first Yale athletic event of the season, but they did so against a Sacred Heart team that defeated them in the first game of the 2003 season.

The pressure showed early, as Pioneer Becky Ford converted the rebound off goalie Kate Crandall’s ’06 initial save to score an unassisted goal only 1:04 into the game.

“It seemed like we were waiting to see what we were facing until we got into it,” midfielder Catherine Lindroth ’08 said. “We didn’t start out going really hard. But as soon as they scored, we knew we had to play our game.”

The Bulldogs found their groove quickly after Ford’s goal and dominated the remainder of the first half, outshooting the Pioneers 8-2. The constant pressure paid off, and Yale found its way onto the scoreboard with 13:45 remaining in the half on an unassisted goal by midfielder Trish Bissett ’07. Less than five minutes later, the Elis took the lead when forward Elizabeth Topp ’05 gained control of the ball in front of the right post and shot it to the opposite corner of the goal mouth. Bissett was given the assist for her second point of the game.

Yale dominated the second half as well, outshooting Sacred Heart 9-3, but failed to get a shot past Pioneer goalkeeper Ashley DelGreco. The only goal of the second half was scored by Ford, who notched her second tally of the game by scoring on a penalty corner with 20:25 remaining in the half.

Neither team managed to score during the remainder of regulation, and the stage was set for a repeat of last year’s opener — overtime after a 2-2 tie.

But the drama did not last long. Two minutes and 24 seconds into overtime, on the first shot of the overtime period, midfielder Meredith Hudson ’05 scored on a penalty corner, assisted by midfielder Sarah Driscoll ’05 and Collins.

Yale players were particularly excited for the win because of last year’s 3-2 overtime loss.

“It was an awful feeling last year,” midfielder Heather Orrico ’07 said. “We know they’re going to come after us, because we’ve got a little Connecticut rivalry. It was great to turn the tables and have our first win of the season be against them.”

Sunday’s contest against Holy Cross was a much more evenly-matched game, although Yale did have an edge throughout. The Bulldogs took 14 shots to the Crusaders’ 12 and had seven short corner opportunities to Holy Cross’ five. Despite the Eli edge, the first half was a stalemate, with only seven total shots taken and no goals scored.

Holy Cross struck first only 2:44 into the second half when Tara Welch found a way into the Eli net. With 23:33 left in the half, Susie Whelan added another goal for the Crusaders, extending the lead to two.

Friday’s overtime hero Hudson narrowed the gap with her second score of the season with 7:48 remaining in the first half, off an assist from Collins. But Holy Cross responded less than three minutes later to bring the lead back up to two.

The Bulldogs played hard until the end, particularly gaining momentum when Topp scored with 1:57 left. Yale took a time out immediately after and pulled Crandall to add an extra field player, Lindroth, but could not find the goal again.

Several Bulldog players were particularly disappointed because not only had Yale dominated Holy Cross in the past, but the Elis also felt that they controlled this game as well, and that they were lacking in intensity.

“I think that maybe we were so surprised that we were dominating them that we weren’t being aggressive,” Lindroth said. “We didn’t feel any urgency to score until we were scored on.”

Saturday, the Elis take on Princeton at Johnson Field in the Bulldogs’ first Ivy League match-up of the year. The Tigers were nationally ranked at the conclusion of last year and have given Yale trouble in the past, including a tough 5-4 overtime loss in 2003. But the Tigers have begun this season 0-2, and the Elis believe that if they play their game, they have a fair shot at winning.

“Princeton is 0-2, and they’ll be looking to get their first win against us,” Orrico said. “We have to step on the field and play our own game. We have the heart and determination — we can beat them. We just have to make sure that we’re ready to play.”
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