Emotions ran high this weekend as team members and alumnae of Yale’s first female varsity sport gathered for a celebration of the field hockey team’s 40th anniversary.
The Bulldogs fell to Penn 3–2 on Saturday despite the loud cheers and packed stands at Johnson Field. Hoping to break even on Sunday with a win against Albany, the team instead suffered a 6–l loss to the Great Danes. But players said that the significance of Alumnae Day could not be minimized by the losses.
“The alumnae turnout this weekend was phenomenal,” forward Gabby Garcia ’16 said in an email to the News. “Their presence added so much more meaning to the game because they are demonstrative of the legacy that is Yale Field Hockey. The final result wasn’t in our favor, but it was wonderful having them back and hearing how much this program means to them.”
The final score of Saturday’s game did not tell the full story of the Bulldogs’ (4–10, 1–4 Ivy) performance against Penn (7–7, 2–3 Ivy). Although the Quakers came out on top, the Elis outshot them 21–15.
The Bulldogs came out hard and struck first. Immediately after a Yale penalty corner, forward Nicole Wells ’16 found the net from inside the circle in the 20th minute. Midfielder Emily Schuckert ’14 was awarded an assist for the goal.
But Penn managed to steal the momentum just seven minutes later with the second goal of the first half. A few minutes into the second half, the Quaker forward Sunny Stirewalt scored the go-ahead goal off of a penalty corner. Unfortunately, the string of unanswered goals did not end there. Although Yale continued to hammer away shots, Penn forward Julie Tahan managed to put away a pass from midfielder Sarah Hasson, bringing the score to 3–1 and forcing the Elis to call a timeout.
“Penn did a good job of riding their train of momentum,” Garcia said. “They kept balls [in their offensive] circle and at times, we were unable to tie up their sticks.”
The Bulldogs responded quickly, fueling hope for a comeback. Forward Brooke Gogel ’14 deflected a pass from midfielder Erica Borgo ’14 high over the Penn keeper Carly Sokach’s shoulder in the 51st minute to pull the Elis within one.
In the final minutes of regulation time, Borgo appeared to score what would have been the game-tying goal, but the goal was waved off because of illegal foot contact. The Bulldogs could not find the equalizer before the final whistle and Penn came away with the victory. Goalkeeper Emily Cain ’13 stopped six of Penn’s nine shots on goal. Sokach saved 13 of the 15 shots the Elis sent her way.
On Sunday, the Bulldogs faced defeat by a larger margin. No. 23 Albany (10–7, 2–2 America East) scored four goals in the first half, three of which came on penalty corners. The Bulldogs gave up 16 penalty corners across both halves, while earning only two of their own.
“We are lucky to have an incredible defensive unit for penalty corner’s, but it’s unfair that we put them on the line as much as we do,” Garcia said. “I think circle play will be an emphasis in practice this week. If we focus on good positioning and hard outlets, we should be able to lower the number of corners significantly.”
Yale was limited to only one shot before halftime, while the Great Danes had 17.
The Elis dispelled the possibility of a shutout when forward Jessie Accurso ’15 scored an unassisted goal at 48:36. But the Great Danes answered with a goal less than a minute after Accurso’s, and scored again 17 minutes later to push the score to 6–1.
Albany midfielders Corrine McConville and Jessica Longstretch each had two goals, and Yale was outshot 35-3 by the Great Danes. Caine had 15 saves and Heather Schlesier ’15, who came in with 12 minutes to go, had two.
“Albany is a very skilled and talented team,” Schlesier said. “I think they read our offense very well which obviously made it difficult for us to penetrate their defense. We did manage to catch them off guard on some fast breaks, one of which provided us with a beautiful goal by Jessie.”
Schlesier actually started the game as a forward for the first time this season before her late appearance in net, demonstrating her versatility on the field. She said that she had not played out of goal in years, but was able to provide intensity and effort with the help of her teammates.
The Elis will remain at home over fall break, playing Columbia and Boston University this weekend.