While they may not have been the most talked-about late-game winner for Yale athletics this weekend, the field hockey team certainly won as dramatically as anyone Saturday.
A goal from Mia Rosati ’13 in the final four minutes gave the Bulldogs a 1–0 win over archrival Harvard in Cambridge — the seventh straight time the two have played a contest decided by just one goal.
“Playing Harvard is always a battle because of the rivalry, but we were very prepared from an intense week of practice.” Chelsey Locarno ’12 said. “After the tough loss on Sunday [3–2 OT loss to No. 20 UMass], we were especially eager to make a statement in our first league game.
And they did. Despite what the final score might indicate, the Bulldogs dominated their Ancient Eight rivals throughout the game, outshooting the Crimson 17-5 and receiving nine penalty corners to Harvard’s three. Cynthia Tassopolous’s six saves and strong play between the pipes held her team in the game through the first 66 minutes of play, but she couldn’t hold out against the Bulldog onslaught down the stretch, and Rosati deflected a shot from reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Week Georgia Holland ’14 past her for the clincher.
The win got the Bulldogs’ conference season off to a winning start — a crucial fact considering last year’s champion, Princeton, went undefeated in their championship run.
Riding high from Rosati’s late game heroics, Yale returned home for a matchup with the University of Maine (6–2) on Sunday afternoon. The Bulldogs came out firing, as Locarno tipped a shot from midfielder Dinah Landshut ’12 past Maine goalie Brittany Fleck for the goal on the third of Yale’s five first-half penalty corners.
Just three minutes into the second half, however, the Black Bears’ leading scorer Kelly Newton tied things up, pushing a shot past captain Katie Bolling ’11, who finished the game with 14 saves, one short of her career high of 15.
Landshut and Rosati combined to set up classmate Taylor Sankovich ’12 off a penalty corner at 57:08 to reclaim the lead for the Bulldogs; the goal was Sankovich’s fifth of the season.
But after that goal, Yale became increasingly frustrated with several questionable calls — including one that would lead to the eventual game-tying goal for Maine. After a ball was shot into Locarno’s chest — a play that would normally result in a whistle — play was allowed to continue, and Newton capitalized, tying things up just three minutes after Sankovich’s tally.
The frustration continued for the Bulldogs as they headed to overtime, and just 5:41 into the extra period Maine’s Jocelyn Mitchell caught the Eli defense napping and sent a point-blank, dead-angle shot past Bolling for the game-winner.
“We always talk about how there are several things we can’t control in a game — the refs, the weather — we could’ve improved today by focusing more on the aspects of the game we can control, rather than the refs,” Kirsten Krebs ’12, who had a few breakaway chances stymied by late Black Bear challenges. “Princeton [Yale’s next opponent] has been on our minds the entire season … if anything, these two overtime losses have prepared us to take on Princeton because we know we can play with some of the best teams in the country.”
Krebs and the Elis will have to file this game away quickly, because Saturday’s matchup with the No. 4 Tigers looms as the biggest game on their 2010 schedule. Princeton, a perennial top-five team, is also 1-0 in conference play; that one win was a 9–1 drubbing of Dartmouth, a team that received votes in multiple national polls last season.
Yale’s only loss in Ivy League play last season came against the Tigers, and, while several conference games follow Saturday’s contest, a win would not only be a tremendous upset, but put the Bulldogs’ destiny in their own hands as they pursue an Ivy League Championship.
“Today’s loss won’t stand in our way of achieving our goal of beating Princeton,” Krebs said. “I think we will use what we have learned from our losses, in combination with our hard work and spirit, to play Princeton like we’ve never played them before.
The showdown between the two top powers in the Ivy League begins Saturday at noon at Johnson Field.