The Yale field hockey season kicks off this weekend with two games outside of the Ivy League. The team will face Sacred Heart on Saturday and Hofstra on Sunday. The squad is led by seasoned Head Coach Pam Stuper and captain Nicole Wells ’16.

The Bulldogs have been preparing for this opening weekend since they arrived on campus two weeks ago.

“I’m really excited to start. Hopefully we’ll have two wins before league play even begins,” forward Alyssa Weiss ’17 said. “We’ve had scrimmages so far, but we’re hoping to set the tone for the year this weekend.”

Wells also noted the importance of these games for the future. Wells said that the key for the weekend will be playing solid hockey regardless of the result, although she added that the team would love to start the year with two wins.

Since scrimmages began on Aug. 22, the team has been practicing at Johnson Field and Payne Whitney Gym, running drills and other training sets while also working on chemistry and team bonding.

“I love this team because of the cohesion that has developed within it,” back Megan Kirkham ’15 said. “We are looking to perform well and put all our hard work into the games. All classes are contributing and [bringing] great personalities to the table.”

The team has consciously chosen to have a relatively small roster of only 18 players, in order to create a much closer and more cohesive team, according to Wells.

Another unique aspect of the roster is the number of freshmen, Wells added.

“This year, our freshman class makes up a third of our team. All six of them will have an instant and huge impact on the team this season,” Wells said. “They are all hard workers that know the game well while playing with a lot of passion and tenacity, which is what YFH is all about.”

Although official play has yet to begin, a number of players said that the team is already looking forward to the future and to what it hopes to accomplish during the season.

Wells said that the Ivy League has become more competitive over the years, but that the team will look to capture the conference crown at season’s end.

“This is a strong team with good chemistry and strong leadership,” Weiss said. “Our goal for this year is to have a winning season. Winning the Ivy League Championship? That’s the end goal.”

This season will continue with games against Quinnipiac and California on Sept. 13 and 14, respectively. The team’s first Ivy League opponent will be Harvard in an away game on Sept. 20.