They don’t call forward Buffy Topp ’05 “The Topper” for nothing.
Topp’s goal 2:28 into overtime was the game-winner as the field hockey team (5-5, 1-2 Ivy) followed through on a strong second half to beat Dartmouth (4-7, 2-2 Ivy) 3-2 at Scully-Fahey Field on Saturday. The win brings the Bulldogs up to .500 for the first time since Sept. 5th. The victory is also Yale’s first over an Ivy opponent this season.
Topp scored twice Saturday, bringing her team-leading total up to eight on the season. Six of those goals have come in the last four games.
“She’s been playing incredibly — we’re all really proud of her,” forward Meredith Howell ’05 said. “She has great intensity. Every time she steps out there you know she’ll make a difference.”
The Big Green came out strong, dominating the first 15 minutes of play and netting the only goal of the first half. Forward Lindsay Gossage saved an errant pass from going over the end line and got the ball to forward Audrey Knutson in front of the net 14:07 into the game. Knutson put the ball in for her eighth tally of the season.
The remainder of the first half was relatively quiet offensively. Dartmouth held a slight edge in shooting, 4-2, and took the only two penalty corners of the half.
At halftime, the Bulldogs were told they had to pick up the pace.
“At the half, [head coach] Ainslee [Lamb] said she felt like we were holding back and waiting for something,” Topp said. “She said we had nothing to lose, that we had to go get them and put everything we had into second half. There was no reason to wait — we had to come out and play.”
Following their coach’s advice, the Elis came out on the offensive. Yale dominated the second half, outshooting Dartmouth 14-7 and taking 10 penalty corners to the Big Green’s two.
The Bulldogs’ newfound spark paid off quickly. Only 1:13 into the second half, defender Meredith Hudson ’05 scored on a straight shot off of a penalty corner to knot the score at 1-1.
Only four minutes later, Knutson would help Dartmouth go up again, finding Allison Welch near the goal. Welch’s score put the Big Green on top 2-1.
But the Elis’ leading scorer was there to respond. Seven minutes after Welch’s tally, Topp scored an unassisted goal to bring the Bulldogs even again.
The Elis nearly finished Dartmouth off in regulation. With roughly five minutes left in the game, midfielder Grace Morris ’06 deflected a shot off a Yale penalty corner into Big Green netminder Lauren Balukjian. Balukjian knocked the ball into the air, where Morris swatted it into the goal.
Morris’ shot was illegal, due to a high-stick violation. But several Bulldogs said they should have been granted another corner because Balukjian was not allowed to raise the ball.
In overtime, each team got off one shot on goal, but it was Topp’s that found the net. Her score, assisted by midfielder Harriet Thayer ’08, secured Yale’s second overtime win of the season.
The Bulldogs said the biggest factor in securing the victory Saturday was playing with more intensity than Dartmouth.
“Our goal is to step out on the field, look out at a girl on the other team and think, ‘I’m going to outwork that girl,'” goalie Elizabeth Friedlander ’07 said. “That’s the main idea of our program; we know we’re going to outwork the other team.”
Friedlander made five saves in Saturday’s game.
The Elis’ next game may be the ultimate match of the season, as they travel to Cambridge to face No. 17 Harvard. The Crimson is 7-4, with a 3-0 Ivy League record, and has outscored opponents 31-18 this season.
Harvard presents one of the toughest challenges of the season, but the Bulldogs are trying to stay calm and collected in the wake of their accomplishment this weekend.
“We’ve got two days off, a nice mental and physical break,” Howell said. “We’ll be gearing up for Harvard all week, but we’re going to take practice one day at a time, work on what we need to work on and hopefully peak at the end of the week.”