Despite a positive outlook going into the weekend, the Yale field hockey team returned home with another two losses after facing Dartmouth and defending national champion Connecticut.
Yale (2–11, 0–4 Ivy) fell to the Big Green (5–8, 3–1) 4–2 on Saturday and then to the Huskies (11–3, 3–0 Big East) 8–3 on Sunday, continuing a trend of a lack of defense. In 10 of the Bulldogs’ 11 losses, the Elis have allowed at least three goals.
“Dartmouth has been having a successful season, especially in Ivy League play. Playing teams with confidence is always a challenge,” midfielder Kelsey Nolan ’17 said. “It’s always a great opportunity to play top-10 teams. We have nothing to lose and anything can happen.”
Dartmouth opened with two goals within the first ten minutes, both by forward Ali Savage. Both the Bulldogs and the Big Green scored twice in the second half, with Yale’s goal coming from captain Nicole Wells ’16 and Nolan. This was the second goal of the season for both players.
Although being outshot 16–7 in the first half, Yale came out strong after the break, taking an additional 15 shots, finishing with just three fewer shots overall than Dartmouth. The Elis also had more penalty corners than the Big Green in the second half.
But in the end, the Elis’ effort was not enough. Dartmouth’s victory puts the Big Green in a three-way tie for second place with Cornell and Princeton.
On Sunday, the first half against No. 4 Connecticut was also tough for the Bulldogs. The Huskies scored five unanswered goals in the first half, starting less than two minutes into the game. In the second half, UConn once again scored within the first two minutes. But just four minutes later, forward Jessie Accurso ’15 put Yale on the board for the first time.
“It’s an awesome opportunity to go up against strong teams,” Accurso said. “We really get to focus on utilizing all of our strengths so that we can be successful.”
Despite two more goals, one each by midfielder Catherine Kurtin ’18 and Nolan, the Bulldogs still lost to UConn by five goals. However, for the second time in the weekend, the Elis equaled their opponent’s scoring output in the second half.
Still, in both games the team allowed its opponent a quick lead while being shut out for the first 35 minutes of play.
This weekend’s games, however, showed some improvement from the Bulldogs. Despite being swept, the Bulldogs were able to score often. They scored five goals in their two games this weekend, compared to the 10 they had scored in all 11 of their previous games.
“This past week at practice, we really focused on getting in the circle and shooting. Our practice translated into our game play, leading to the most shots we’ve ever had in a weekend and more goals too,” Nolan said. “Our offense has definitely improved since the beginning of the season. We’re being more opportunistic, taking advantage of the chances we get.”
The defense also had a big weekend, with goalkeeper Heather Schlesier ’15 making 10 saves against Dartmouth and 11 against Connecticut. Back Noelle Villa ’16 also made a defensive save against the Big Green.
This upcoming weekend, Yale will make another push for a win against Penn on Saturday and then No. 17 Albany on Sunday, both at home.
“Our schedule is not light,” Wells said. “We are not a team that believes in playing ‘easy’ games. We strive to play good hockey at all times against whoever our competition is. That is why our coach has strategically planned our season’s opponents in order to prepare ourselves for the more important league play games.”
Penn currently has the second most goals scored in the Ivy League with 36, only trailing first-place Columbia’s 43. The Quakers are coming off their first shutout win, beating Longwood 5–0 on Sunday.
Albany is also having a successful run as it holds the top spot in the America East conference and is in the midst of a seven-game winning streak.
Sunday’s game against Albany is the team’s senior night, which, according to Wells, is an exciting time to play.
The Bulldogs will face Penn at noon on Johnson Field this Saturday.