For a field hockey team that had gone without a win in the Ivy League until Saturday, any conference win would have been reason to celebrate. The fact that the first Ancient Eight team to fall to the Elis was archrival Harvard made the win all the sweeter.
Saturday, the Bulldogs (5-8, 1-3 Ivy) won their first league matchup of the season, a 1-0 victory over the Crimson (5-7, 1-3). The lone goal came from forward Katie Rivkin ’06, her first score of the season.
“You would have thought we won the league or the championship,” Yale head coach Pam Stuper said.
In their last chance to play Harvard, the seniors on the team came away with their first win over the Crimson in four years.
“It was pretty much the greatest gift I could ask for from the team,” goalkeeper Kate Crandall ’06 said. “This is something that we have wanted to do all four years.”
The Bulldogs gradually built up intensity, playing stronger offense and defense after halftime. The Elis cut Harvard’s shot total from five in the first frame to four in the second, while increasing their own number of shots from one to nine.
Despite outshooting Harvard, 10-9, the Bulldogs only received three penalty corners to Harvard’s nine. But that did not stop the Elis from being the team to convert a corner opportunity. Rivkin scored the winning goal 41:28 into the game on a penalty corner, assisted by midfielder Heather Orrico ’07.
Although the goal put Yale ahead, it did not lead the Bulldogs to make any major changes.
“I didn’t change a thing after we scored the goal,” Stuper said. “I hate playing not to lose. I wanted to keep us playing to win.”
For the Bulldogs, the game was more than just a win for their record. Beating Harvard was a first-time experience for everyone on the roster. Last year, the Elis nearly pulled off an upset of then-No. 17 Harvard, leading the Crimson 1-0 and then 2-1 during the game but eventually losing, 3-2.
Even the freshmen, playing Harvard for the first time, felt the importance of the victory.
“We’re so excited that we beat Harvard,” midfielder Ali Rotondo ’09 said. “The game was the best feeling in the world.”
In addition to coming away with a win, the Bulldogs were also satisfied with their play.
“Our team came out and played a complete game, and it was so gratifying to walk off the field,” Crandall said.
Stuper only had positive things to say about the win.
“It was just a fantastic win for us, no question,” Stuper said. “To not only beat Harvard, but to beat a very good Harvard says a lot about our program.”