The Yale field hockey team begins its pursuit of the Ivy League titleFriday night as it opens its 2010-’11 season with a non-conference showdown against in-state foe Sacred Heart.

The Bulldogs are coming off one of the most successful seasons in school history — one that saw them post a 12–5 record on their way to a second-place Ivy League finish. But in keeping with the team’s2010-’11 mantra, “Raising the Bar,” Coach Pam Stuper and the Yale squadarenot content to duplicate last season, and they have changed their strategy from 2009 in the hopeof finally taking the top spot in the Ancient Eight.

Instead of the 3–3–4 format (three forwards, three midfielders, four backs) the Bulldogs featured last year, Yale has instituted a 2–2–3–3 scheme. With this new setup, and the fact that the Bulldogs are returning four of their top six scorers from last season, Yale hopes to come out firing Saturday night at Johnson Field.

Among the candidates to replace the two scorers the Bulldogs lost at the end of last season— Katie Cantore ’10 and Ashley MacCauley ’10 — is freshman forward Erica Borgos ’14.

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“She’s gonna score,” Yale goalkeeper Ona McConnell ’13 said of Borgos. “She’s always around the ball and is just a natural scorer.”

Fellow freshmen Emily Schukert ’14 and Georgia Holland ’14 have also impressed.

“There is a lot of talent and speed coming from the freshmen,” back Marissa Waldemore ’11said. “They all have the ability to contribute this season. We are looking forward to having a deep bench and being able to sub every couple of minutes to make sure our options are strong and fast upfield.”

The Bulldogs may need to take advantage of that depth sooner than they had hoped, as forward Mia Rosati ’12 (six goals, one assist in 2009) has battled tendonitis in her leg throughout the preseason, though she hopes to be ready to contribute Friday night. Classmates Dinah Landshutc ’12 (16 points in 2009) and Erin Carter ’12 (17 points in 2009) will lead the Bulldogs as they attempt to duplicate last year’s 7–1 drubbing of Sacred Heart.

Captain Katie Bolling ’11 will most likely be between the pipes for the Bulldogs tomorrow night, as she and her team finally will get a chance to see the fruits of their intense off-season labor.

“Our confidence really builds off of the preparation we have put into getting ready for season,” Bolling said. “We have taken the necessary steps to get where we need to be.”

Where they want to be is at the top of the Ivy League, and their quest to reach that point begins Friday night at 7 p.m. at Johnson Field.

The first 50 fans will receive a free personal pizza as the Bulldogs sponsor “Get a Grip” night in support of teammate McConnell’s fight against myotonic dystrophy.