The Yale field hockey team notched its second win in a row with a 4-1 win over Quinnipiac at Johnson Field Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs (4-5, 0-2 Ivy) played a close game with the Bobcats (3-10) in the early minutes of the first half, with each team matching the other shot for shot. But the Elis began to pull away nearly 16 minutes into the game, when Eli midfielder Meredith Hudson ’05 fired a corner shot past Bobcat goalkeeper Erin McKay.
“It was a very well-executed corner,” Yale head coach Ainslee Lamb said. “We actually missed some opportunities early on to score, but one thing our team has learned and finally adjusted to is that they just need to be persistent.”
The Elis bolstered their lead with 11:14 left in the first half thanks to an unassisted goal by captain Chrissy Hall ’05. But Quinnipiac kept the pressure on the Bulldogs by sneaking a shot past Eli goalkeeper Elizabeth Friedlander ’07 almost exactly a minute later to cut the deficit in half.
The Bulldogs narrowly outshot the Bobcats 7-5 in the first half, but Lamb said she was confident in her team’s control of the field going into the break.
“We were really dominating the play, so we didn’t have a lot of adjustments to make,” Lamb said. “What I pretty much encouraged them to do was keep playing the way they were playing. But one of our goals is always to outwork our opponent, and there were points in the game when Quinnipiac was beating us to the balls, so the biggest focus point was to outwork them in the second half.”
Outwork them the Bulldogs did. Forward Buffy Topp ’05 scored the Bulldogs’ second unassisted goal 7:27 into the second half to put Yale up 3-1. Forward Meredith Howell ’05 scored the final goal of the game off an assist from Catherine Lindroth ’08 with 15:02 left to play. Throughout the second half, the Bulldogs kept Quinnipiac on the defensive, firing off six shots in the second half while holding the Bobcats to three.
“Our passing was really good,” Howell said. “It has been all season. But we worked together better, and our corners started to click.”
Howell added there was also a greater sense of urgency driving the Bulldogs Wednesday.
“We’ve been losing games, so we knew that wasn’t an option,” she said. “We had to put the ball in the net.”
While Quinnipiac is a strong offensive team, its defensive line was the weakness the Elis had to exploit, Lamb said.
“They’re very strong, very fast, and very dangerous, but their weakest point is certainly their back field, and our forwards just outran them,” Lamb said. “Once they did that, there was a huge opening. But you have to have legitimate shots to score goals against Erin McKay — she’s good.”
With four goals Wednesday and five goals in their 5-0 win against Rhode Island last Saturday, the Bulldogs have nearly doubled their goal total heading into last weekend. Through their first seven games, the Elis had only managed to find the back of the net 10 times. Lamb attributed the turnaround to the team’s renewed determination.
“We sat down and refocused our goals, and those goals are taken one game at a time,” she said. “I think we still have some potential left to reach and I think it’s a good thing that we can win without playing our best. But I’m also excited that there’s potential to play even better.”
The Elis may need to utilize all of their potential when they face-off against Dartmouth (4-6, 2-1 Ivy) in Hanover, N.H.. Saturday afternoon. Several Bulldogs said the team’s rivalry with the Big Green makes the upcoming game an important one.
The teams’ similar records hint that Saturday’s game will be a close one. But Howell said Yale’s clashes with Dartmouth are hotly contested even when the teams seem vastly different on paper, citing last year’s double sudden-death overtime nail-biter. At the time, the Bulldogs were 6-4 while Dartmouth was 1-9, but Yale barely squeaked out a win.
Lamb said she expects the Bulldogs’ dedication and work ethic to lead Yale to victory this year.
“Whatever team decides to step on the field and outwork the other team, that’s who is going to win,” Lamb said. “We’re two very evenly matched teams with some similar strategies. But we’re certainly going to work our hardest for it, and, fortunately, we’ve been on the winning end of that the last couple of years.”