While the Yale field hockey squad did not earn the end result it desired on Saturday against Dartmouth, the Bulldogs made their presence felt on the offensive side of the field after being held without a goal for four straight games.
The Elis (2–10, 0–4 Ivy) pressured the Big Green (5–7, 1–3) with a dynamic attack that produced 26 shots, the greatest total of the year for Yale. Although the outburst of shots resulted in two goals, the Bulldogs came up one short, falling to Dartmouth by a final of 3–2.
Still winless in the Ivy League, head coach Pam Stuper’s squad should be encouraged by the offensive showing, as the Bulldogs had only registered more than 20 shots on one other occasion this season: a 22-shot performance in their season-opening victory over Sacred Heart.
With 14 of Yale’s shots on target, Dartmouth keeper Paige Duffy delivered a strong performance in net, making 11 saves to hold off Yale in a battle between two schools in search of their first Ivy win.
“This was the best offense that we’ve had in a very long time,” said Yale forward Carol Middough ’18, who scored the Elis’ first goal late in the first half. “We were moving the ball forward, creating breakaways. It was great to see some improvement on that end.”
Saturday’s Ivy League bout remained scoreless until Dartmouth midfielder Brooke Van Valkenburg converted off a pass from senior Clare Detrick-Yee just prior to the 24-minute mark in the first half.
Just over two minutes later, midfielder Eliza Becker put Dartmouth up 2–0. Becker has been the primary facilitator of Dartmouth’s offense this season with a team-leading 10 assists. Her third goal of the season capped what Middough considered a period of complacency.
“I thought the energy level of the game was really high,” Middough said. “I think toward the middle of the first half we got a little bit too comfortable which is when they scored two goals.”
Middough responded less than three minutes later to put Yale on the board and cut the deficit in half. The Oceanport, New Jersey native leads the Bulldogs with six goals this season. No other Yale player has recorded more than one goal so far this year.
Senior midfielder Nicole Wells ’16, who assisted on Middough’s goal, said she was proud of how Yale bounced back after giving up two goals in quick succession.
“The atmosphere was definitely the highest intensity that it’s been,” Wells said. “We’ve been playing a bunch of tough teams. It was great to get out there and play a competitive league game. Everyone was supporting one another, especially when we went down.”
Nine minutes into the second half, Dartmouth midfielder Rebecca Hu scored to extend the Big Green advantage to 3–1. Hu, a fifth-year senior, has tallied a team-leading 21 points through Dartmouth’s 12 games this year with none perhaps more important than Saturday’s strike.
As the Bulldogs continued to pressure Duffy and the Big Green’s defensive corps, Yale staged a late-game comeback attempt. With 7:33 remaining in regulation, defender Kiwi Comizio ’18 fired home an unassisted strike to bring the Elis within one goal. It was the first goal Comizio has scored this season — the second of her collegiate career — and it proved to be the final goal of the game. Following the goal, Middough managed one more shot on target for the Elis, but Duffy handled it to preserve the Dartmouth victory.
“Even if we didn’t win, all of us felt good about the way we played,” Comizio said. “We needed to finish some of those opportunities, but we showed that we can create offensive chances. After a few games where we didn’t put up many shots, it helped our confidence.”
Yale had struggled mightily as of late in terms of creating such scoring opportunities. Over their last seven contests, the Elis had averaged just 4.6 shots per game, including a goose egg against then-No. 20 Princeton on Oct. 3.
Comizio said she was impressed by the team’s ability to constantly remain in attack mode, making runs and threatening the Dartmouth defense in ways that they had previously failed to on a consistent basis in conference competition.
“I thought it was really different from usual,” Comizio said. “Part of the problem that we’ve had in Ivy League games is that we come out too reactive and on our heels as opposed to attacking and pushing forward.”
The Elis will look to carry the positives, namely this weekend’s offensive flow, into their upcoming weekend of action. Yale visits Penn at noon on Saturday before hosting Patriot League opponent Bucknell on Sunday at 2 p.m. Penn has been on fire since losing its season opener to Liberty, winning 10 of its last 11 matchups. Bucknell, meanwhile, has split its past four contests and is just 1–5 on the road this year.