The Yale field hockey squad’s opening weekend did not lack drama.
Led by forward/midfielder Carol Middough ’18, the Bulldogs started the season off in style with a thrilling 2–1 overtime win on Saturday over Sacred Heart at Johnson Field. But in Sunday’s game against local rival Quinnipiac, Yale failed to overcome a slow start and ultimately fell 2–1.
“On Saturday, we stuck to our game plan and got the result we wanted — a win,” midfielder/forward Katie Smith ’18 said. “We played very well together considering it was our first game, and as the season continues I know we will only improve from here.”
Middough set the tone early on Saturday, scoring Yale’s first goal of the year in the 10th minute off of an assist from Smith. Yale’s defense held onto the 1–0 lead until about nine minutes into the second half, when an unassisted shot from Sacred Heart’s Danielle Gallagher leveled the game at one goal apiece.
Both teams produced solid scoring chances throughout the rest of the second half. Christine Mace and Lauren Lawson combined for five shots on goal for the Pioneers (1–2, 0–0 Metro Atlantic), while captain Noelle Villa ’16 and forward/midfielder Evagelia Toffoloni ’19 each chipped in with three shots on target for the Elis (1–1, 0–0 Ivy). But neither Sacred Heart nor Yale capitalized on their effective build-up play — though the Bulldogs earned a penalty corner on the last play of regulation, they were not able to put a shot on goal before overtime.
Sacred Heart created a dangerous scoring chance just a minute into overtime, but Villa made a strong play on the ball to keep her team alive. Pioneer goalkeeper Mary Altepeter tallied 11 saves for the Pioneers but was unable to make save number 12 when Middough hammered home a game-winner just before the 80-minute mark.
“Starting off the season with an overtime win was a great feeling,” Middough said. “I think going into the [first matchup], everyone was a little nervous and to come up with the win was a huge confidence booster.”
Yale played only three overtime games last year, including the season-ending win over Brown.
But according to midfielder Nicole Wells ’16, a staff reporter for the News, the Bulldogs entered the intense overtime atmosphere well-prepared.
“We have played through overtime situations during practice, so when 15 more minutes were added to the clock, we were more than ready to face off against Sacred Heart,” Wells said.
With its record unblemished through one game, Yale turned its attention to Sunday’s contest at Quinnipiac. The Bobcats (1–3, 0–0 MAAC) entered the game seeking their first win after a trio of tough road losses at UMass Lowell, Boston College and UConn.
Quinnipiac struck first with a goal from senior forward Savanna Reilly 13 minutes in. Ten minutes later, Bobcats midfielder Angie King added a goal of her own to put the Bulldogs on the wrong side of a 2–0 deficit heading into halftime.
Given time to prepare during the intermission, however, Yale head coach Pamela Stuper and her squad made necessary adjustments. Fifty-two seconds into the second half, Middough fired in her third goal of the young season. After only producing six shots compared to Quinnipiac’s 12 in the first half, the Bulldogs outshot the Bobcats 10–5 in the second half and secured seven penalty corners.
Ultimately, however, Yale’s prolific second-half performance was too little, too late. Quinnipiac senior goalie Megan Conoboy starred with 11 saves and the Bulldogs suffered a 2–1 defeat.
After Sunday’s loss, Middough remained optimistic that the Bulldogs will continue to improve and build on what they experienced this weekend.
“I felt as though the weekend was a success despite our loss,” Middough said. “The team played really well and now we know what to work on going into next weekend.”
Middough and the Bulldogs will look to match the composure they showed against Sacred Heart when they travel to American University on Saturday. The game begins at noon.