The field hockey season concludes this weekend as the Elis pack their bags one last time.
Yale (5-11, 2-4 Ivy) is preparing to face the Brown Bears for its final league game in Providence on Saturday — a matchup that has marked the end of the regular season since 2002. The road has proven to be relatively bumpy, albeit highly instructive, for the Bulldogs this season. They have given up six games away from Johnson Field, including three shutouts to teams that are currently ranked among the top 10 in the nation.
“It was a great opportunity to play top-ranked opponents such as UVA, Syracuse and UConn this season,” captain and forward Madison Sharp ’13 said. “The purpose of playing these tough games was to grow together as a team and take the lessons we learned into our Ivy play.”
While the Bulldogs have found success on the road only twice this season, both wins have come from within the Ivy League. Although they fell to No. 15 BU in a 2-0 shutout past Sunday, the team’s defense held firm, allowing the offense several opportunities to go ahead against a ranked opponent.
“Communication has been one of our focus points for a while, and I really think this weekend was proof that we really improved on that aspect of our game,” keeper Heather Schlesier ’15 said. “I think right now we are playing the best hockey that we have played all season because our team has really worked hard together and improved our communication.”
After generating some chances in the circle and working well as a unit, which are essential for successful team defense, the Bulldogs will build off similar focus points at practice this week.
“We’d like to continue to build on [last week’s practice],” said head coach Pamela Stuper. “We don’t want to make it a ‘once-and-done.’ We’d like to carry [last weekend’s success] into the match against Brown this weekend as well.”
Forward Jessie Accurso ’15 currently leads the team with 15 points and six goals. Forward Emily Schuckert ’14 possesses the team-high four assists. Keeper Emily Cain’s ’14 enters Saturday’s game with improved statistics, including a 3.05 overall GAA and a 0.718 shot percentage, due to her 19 saves this past weekend.
The Bears (6-10, 1-5 Ivy) are also looking to bounce back in their final game after falling to Penn 2-1 in overtime. The Bears were outshout 25–4 in a loss that snapped their three-game winning streak.
With 16 points and eight goals, Brown forward Meghan O’Donnell is first among her teammates in both categories. Forward Hannah Rogers is not far behind with 12 points and five goals. Keeper Shannon McSweeney’s overall performance has been similar to Cain’s — she has a 3.07 GAA and a 0.774 save percentage.
Last year, when the two teams met, Yale secured the Ivy League Championship title for the first time in 31 years with a decisive 7-0 victory over Brown. All six members of the class of 2012 contributed to the game’s final score.
“Last year’s game against Brown was really special,” Schlesier said. “We came into the game like any other and knew that we had to just continue to play the game up until the last second.”
The Elis outshot the Bears 57-6. While McSweeney finished with an impressive 20 saves, Cain was required to make only one save, which came in the second frame. She was relieved in the final minutes of the game, during which backup keeper Heather Schlesier ’15 managed to preserve the shutout with two more saves.
Midfielder Erica Borgo ’14 was awarded four assists in the game, breaking the school record for single-season assists with a total of 17. Schuckert and forward Maddy Sharp ’13 also added to the offensive output with assists of their own.
“We were generating much more last year as far as shots per game. I’m really just looking to build off our Columbia and BU games [this weekend], in that we play the best attack that we have all year,” Stuper said. “We need to give ourselves the best opportunity to score goals by generating attack from our midfield up to our front line.”
This year’s seniors have been a part of two victories over Brown in the last three years.
“Regardless of what Brown brings to the game, we are just excited to play together again after such a great weekend,” Schuckert said.
The two teams will meet on the pitch at 1 p.m. this Saturday in Providence.