The Yale field hockey team and its new coach Pam Stuper broke even on their opening weekend. The Elis fell, 2-1, to Northwestern yesterday but topped Sacred Heart’s squad, 1-0, in the season opener Friday night at Johnson Field.
The final score Sunday did not reflect the effort the Bulldogs put in, midfielder Ali Rotondo ’09 said.
“I think that we came out really strong and a few calls really didn’t go our way, but we really put up a fight,” Rotondo said. “The score easily could have been different.”
The loss came at the stick of Meghan Small, who scored twice despite the efforts of goaltender Elizabeth Friedlander ’07, who notched 15 saves.
“Elizabeth had a spectacular game,” Stuper said. “With all the shots Northwestern had, the score could have been a lot worse, so hats off to her.”
Yale put points on the board first but was not able to follow up. On the Elis’ second penalty corner late in the first half, Heather Orrico ’07 passed to Cat Lindroth ’08, who was able to get the ball past Northwestern goalkeeper Sherri-Anne Nyberg. Less than four minutes later, however, Northwestern responded with the equalizer, knotting the score at one entering halftime.
Not even 10 minutes into the second frame, Small again came up with a crucial goal.
The Bulldogs were especially frustrated by a disputed call late in the second half as Yale struggled to get past the Wildcats’ stifling prevent defense. As the Elis tried to score, the ball ended up in Nyberg’s knee pads, and Stuper felt that the Northwestern goalkeeper covered the ball. The Bulldogs were awarded a corner shot instead of the penalty shot Stuper expected.
“Call it both ways … someone’s going to get hurt,” Stuper yelled to the official at the time of the call.
In the stands, her husband, Yale baseball coach John Stuper, also expressed surprise at the call.
“I’ve never seen my wife that angry — ever,” he said.
Despite the call and the tough loss, Stuper felt her team made a valiant showing against the Wildcats.
“The kids kept fighting until the end. I’m very proud of their efforts today,” Stuper said.
With 1:51 left, Stuper pulled Friedlander to gain an extra player in an effort to score. But despite the Elis’ persistence, the team came up short against the more physical Wildcats.
“I think Northwestern is a very solid team — very strong, very aggressive,” Stuper said. “Our skills were a little sloppier today than they were on Friday.”
Against Sacred Heart, the Bulldogs played with more confidence and finesse.
Early action in the game kept both teams in a stalemate. Pioneer goalkeeper Ashley Del Greco came away with 12 saves, and Friedlander deflected five Sacred Heart attempts.
The winning goal came with 2:32 left in the contest, as Orrico scored on a penalty corner.
Stuper and the rest of the team look forward to their first dose of Ivy League play this coming Saturday when the Elis take on Princeton.
“That’s going to be a great game. They’ve been a strong team in the past, but I have no doubt in my mind, I think we are a phenomenal team,” Rotondo said. “We can really be dangerous.”
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