After two years of knocking on the door, the Yale field hockey team is looking to finally win an Ivy League Championship this season. The team has finished second to Princeton in each of the past two seasons, but hopes to ride on the experience of this year’s team.

The Bulldogs lost just four players to graduation from a team that finished second in the Ivy League last season, posting an 11–6–0 record. The team will be led by its six returning seniors.

“We definitely think this is our year,” Locarno said. “We have great leadership, a great senior class, and almost everyone back. And our schedule gives us a great chance to make the tournament.”

Captain and First-Team All-Ivy selection Erin Carter ’12 anchors the Yale defense, but her eight goals out of the backfield tied her for the team lead, making her an integral component of a Bulldog offense that was third in the Ivy League in scoring in 2010. Also crucial to the attack is midfielder Dinah Landshut ’12, whose 15 assists last year were one shy of the single-season record and moved her into third place at Yale all-time.

Midfielder Chelsey Locarno ’12 has been solid in the midfield throughout her career, starting every game of last season. Kirsten Krebs ’12 also saw time in every game, adding two goals. Classmates and forwards Taylor Sankovich ’12 (7 goals, 2 assists) and Mia Rosati ’12 (5 goals, 5 assists) also started every game in 2010. Landshut and Rosati have started every game of their Yale career to date.

The team’s schedule features five teams — Albany, Michigan, Princeton, Stanford, UConn — ranked in the top 20 of the recently released National Field Hockey Coaches Association Preseason Poll, and five others who received votes. The Bulldogs received four votes, and have ample opportunity to gain more with their challenging schedule. That includes the team’s season debut against No. 20 Stanford and an early October jaunt with No. 9 Michigan and Northwestern University.

“We’ve had a pretty grueling preseason, so we should be ready,” Mia Rosati said of the schedule. “That trip to Michigan and Northwestern will be a great trip.”

The Bulldogs will bring a powerful combination of youth and the experience carried by its seniors into that schedule, as last year saw the emergence of a dynamic freshmen duo that will have a year of experience under their belt heading into this season. That duo consists of last year’s Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Year, midfielder Georgia Holland ’14, and forward Erica Borgo ’14.

Holland led the Ivy League in defensive saves in 2010 while contributing six assists and four goals to the Bulldog offense. Borgo was a second-team All-Ivy pick in her freshman season and Yale’s leading scorer with eight goals and seven assists.

Joining them in a central role for Coach Stuper will be goalie Emily Cain ’14, who will see time between the pipes for the Bulldogs this season after giving up nine goals in 245 minutes in an injury-marred freshman campaign.

The Bulldogs kick off their 2011 season on Sept. 3 at 11 am at Johnson Field.