While the Bulldogs ultimately dropped two contests over the weekend, the Yale field hockey team’s devastating loss to open the Ivy League season on Saturday will be the one to linger on the Elis’ minds this week.
The Bulldogs (2–5, 0–1 Ivy) fell 2–1 in a heartbreaker to Harvard (5–2, 1–0) on Saturday, as 100 minutes of hard-fought action was not enough to decide a winner. After the seventh round of shootout tension, the Crimson finally closed the door on the Elis.
Not given much time to reflect on the loss, Yale squared off against Hofstra (8–3, 0–0 CAA) on Sunday, where the Bulldogs were dealt a 4-1 defeat.
The weekend moved the Elis’ losing streak to three on the season, and it was also the third straight season in which Yale lost to Harvard to open conference play.
“I do not measure our success on wins and losses,” head coach Pam Stuper said. “It’s the process that matters. I am proud of the work we have put in, the progress we have made, and how we play the game.”
While the Bulldogs failed to ever gain momentum against Hofstra, the Harvard game was a tight battle from the very beginning, one that more than lived up to the expectations of a rivalry matchup. Captain Noelle Villa ’16 put Yale on the board first in the hotly contested encounter with forward Nicole Wells ’16 providing the assist. Shut out in the first half, the Crimson notched an equalizer off the stick of forward Marissa Balleza at the 47-minute mark.
Spoiling the Harvard attack time and time again was Yale goalie Emilie Katz ’17, who had a career day. Katz racked up 16 saves, compared to just four saves for Harvard’s netminder, and prevented dangerous Harvard attempts from materializing in the second half.
Ravaged by injuries, Yale survived for two-and-a-half hours before succumbing to a sudden-death dagger.
Stuper praised her junior keeper, Katz, for helping the Bulldogs beat their bitter rivals. Despite exiting the weekend without a win to show for its efforts, Stuper said the team will build off of the good things she saw on Saturday and Sunday.
“When we stick to the game plan we are capable of playing very good hockey,” Stuper said. “We continue to work on all areas of our game, both offensively and defensively.”
Injuries caused Yale to start a youthful group on Sunday afternoon. Multiple Bulldogs who had yet to receive much playing time were thrust into action against Hofstra. Forward Brooke Reese ’19 of Pacific Palisades, California, making her first career start, earned her first-ever goal on a redirect late in the contest in Hempstead, New York.
Another freshman, midfielder and fullback Marissa Medici ’19, was happy with how many of her fellow newcomers performed.
“It was nice to get some more experience for the underclassmen, as we started nine freshmen and sophomores in Sunday’s game,” Medici said.
Hofstra, whose victory was its sixth in a row, was not the only tough challenger on the Bulldogs’ non-conference slate this year. Stuper assembled an objectively difficult schedule — Yale has already lost to No. 2 Syracuse, and they will face off against No. 1 Connecticut this weekend — to prepare the Elis for conference play.
Yale forward Alyssa Weiss ’17 said she believes scheduling such opponents will pay off in the long run.
“This weekend allowed us to see what we need to improve on so we can be in a good position for success when Ivy play continues,” Weiss said. “Playing [opponents] like Hofstra allow us to see what our strengths and weaknesses are, to allow us to build on them throughout the week.”
If the Bulldogs are to put an end to their three-game losing skid, they will have to overcome a nationally ranked opponent one way or another.
Prior to hosting the defending national champions Connecticut on Sunday, Ivy play will resume on Friday at No. 20 Princeton.