After becoming the first Yale field hockey team crowned Ivy League champions in 31 years, the Bulldogs are aiming for another championship title this season under the leadership of captain and forward Maddy Sharp ’13.
The Bulldogs graduated six players from last year’s team, including four of their top six scorers. The championship team earned an 11–6–0 record in the previous season and finished with a strong 7–0 win over Brown to clinch the title.
“After being Ivy champs last year, our expectations for this season are much of the same,” midfielder Erica Borgo ’14 said. “Although we lost a key group of seniors last year, replacing them will be hard but manageable. The talent we have returning will help keep us on the same successful track as last year.”
Sharp, the captain, started all 17 games in the past season, proving that she will be a consistent force as a forward for the Bulldogs. She is joined in the offensive lineup by Gabby Garcia ’14 who also made an appearance in all 17 games in the past season. She ended with four goals and one assist.
The midfield has a strong list of returners as well, including two juniors who participated in USA Field Hockey events. Borgo, who set the school record for assists in the 2011 season, played on the North team at the National Championships this past summer. Classmate Georgia Holland ’14, an All-Ivy League recipient, was selected to the U.S. under-21 team.
“My expectations are that we focus on the process, take one game at a time, and play the very best that we can each day we take the field for practice or competition,” coach Pam Stuper said.
The team will gain five freshmen in the upcoming season. Three of the new additions, Danee Fitzgerald ’16, Noelle Villa ’16 and Nicole Wells ’16, were all-USA Field Hockey Futures participants. Forward Sakshi Kumar ’16 played on the under-18 and under-21 National Teams for Hong Kong. Molly Wolf ’16 took part in the Junior Olympics for USA Field Hockey in 2010 and will play at Yale as a back.
Yale’s schedule includes six teams — Albany, Boston University, Princeton, Syracuse, UConn and Virginia — ranked in the top 25 of the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Preseason Poll released last week. Yale was not on the list. Sharp said that the Sept. 22 game against Princeton will be one of its toughest, as the team lost to the Tigers in the Ivy League Championship game in both 2009 and 2010.
“We have a tough schedule again which puts us against top 20 teams, including Syracuse and UVA, and to make it to the NCAA tournament we really need to come out with a win in a few of those games,” forward and midfielder Mary Beth Barham ’13 said. Sharp also said that the team hopes to make the NCAA tournament.
The Elis will open up the season this Friday on the road against Fairfield, whom Yale defeated 6–0 last season. The first home game will be this coming Sunday against Quinnipiac at Johnson Field in New Haven. The Bulldogs fell to the Bobcats in a close 3–2 loss as a result of penalty strokes last year.