After a decisive 6–0 win over Colgate on Saturday, the field hockey team’s three-game winning streak to start the season came to a heartbreaking halt in Yale’s 3–2 overtime loss to UMass the following day.
Still, the Bulldogs (3–1) are taking consolation in the fact that they put themselves in a strong position to defeat a perennial NCAA tournament team in the Minutewomen.
“We learned we can play with the top teams in the country,” head coach Pam Stuper said of the loss to UMass. “Now we just have to do it.”
The Minutewomen, who received votes in last week’s NFHCA/Kookaburra Division I National Coaches’ Poll, arrived at Johnson Field fresh off a 1–0 upset of No. 4 UConn on Saturday in Amherst, Mass. But it was Yale that looked like the national power at the start, as Maddy Sharp ’13 gave the Bulldogs a 1–0 lead with a goal set up by a drive and feed from Georgia Holland ’14 late in the first half.
Five minutes into the second half, that lead grew to two, as forward Mary Beth Barham ’13 deflected a ball off the stick of fellow forward Mia Rosati ’12, and into the UMass net.
Then the penalty corners started piling up, as the Minutewomen were awarded five penalty corners in a span of just eight minutes.
With 15:09 left in the game, the Yale defense faltered on the Elis’ sixth attempt to stave off the Minutewomens’ penalty corner offense, yielding a goal to Katie Kelly that cut the Yale lead in half.
Senior back Marissa Waldemore ’11 made a diving tackle to prevent UMass from converting its seventh corner of the half. But the onslaught continued to wear down the Yale defense, and Katie Bowman pulled the Minutewomen even with a goal on the team’s ninth corner since halftime.
Captain and goaltender Katie Bolling ’11, back Erin Carter ’12 and Waldemore all had strong defensive performances, following up their strong penalty corner defense in the second half with aggressive, shut-down defense as the game went to sudden-death overtime. Bolling turned away several point-blank shots in the extra period, while Carter, the lone Yalie back in the seven-on-seven overtime formation, helped to stop potential breakaways with her incessant pressure on UMass’ offensive players.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, however, UMass’ Katie Kelly broke through the Yale defense with 2:53 to go in overtime and cashed in her second goal of the game to give the Minutewomen the victory.
It was the goals they scored — and those their opponents didn’t — that told the story Saturday against Colgate.
Bolling kept a clean sheet for the Bulldogs, and Holland did her best to ensure that Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors would stay in the Yale family, scoring two goals to go with her assist Sunday (Forward Erica Borgo ’14, who also contributed to the scoring against the Raiders, earned the honor last week). Back Taylor Sankovich ’12 turned in her second two-goal game in four games as Yale cruised to its third win of the year.
“We learned from that game that we are capable of playing up to the level of top-20 teams — if not better than them,” Bolling said of the overtime loss to UMass. “This is a promising sign for our chances against our other top competition in the coming weeks.”
The first of that competition will be Harvard, as the Bulldogs travel to Cambridge on Saturday. That game will be followed by a home contest against Maine’s Black Bears, who defeated the Bulldogs in Orono last season.