Deniz Saip

With three games remaining on their schedule and senior day on the horizon, the Yale field hockey team has an opportunity to end a tough season on a positive note.

The Elis (2–12, 0–5 Ivy) play their final two-game weekend, as they visit Columbia (8–6, 2–3), who is tied for fourth in the Ivy League, on Saturday and Lafayette (7–9, 2–3 Patriot) on Sunday.

“It would mean a lot to us to finish the year strong [for seniors, back Noelle Villa ’16 and midfielder Nicole Wells ’16],” defender Kiwi Comizio ’18 said. “The season hasn’t gone the way they wanted it to go. We want to give them some nice memories and win these last three games.”

Villa and Wells, this year and last year’s captains respectively, are the only two seniors on a very young Yale roster in the midst of a ten-game losing streak. The Bulldogs battled in two close contests a weekend ago, falling short in a comeback attempt against Penn before squandering a 1–0 lead to Bucknell.

“Obviously both games were pretty disappointing,” Comizio said. “But we want to go out on a high note because we’ve worked so hard for it — even though the results don’t show it.”

Almost exactly one year ago, Columbia visited New Haven and routed the Bulldogs, notching a 4–0 victory en route to a 5–2 Ivy season to finish second in the Ancient Eight.

Wells, who has seen the Lions three times now, was impressed with last year’s Lions squad.

“Columbia was a very strong team last year — definitely the strongest that I’ve seen them so far,” Wells said. “Playing them was a struggle because they had a very well-organized style.”

While Columbia boasts impressive wins over Penn and Michigan State, this year’s campaign has been a rocky one for the Lions. They have alternated wins and losses on their way to a 2–3 mark in conference play and are eliminated from title contention with two conference games remaining.

Meanwhile, Yale feels better prepared to potentially take advantage of the slightly down Lions,  with its seniors as well as several of Yale’s productive sophomores, such as Comizio and leading scorer forward/midfielder Carol Middough ’18, leading the charge.

“[Columbia seems] a bit weaker this year,” Wells said. “I think the game this weekend will be more of an equal battle between us two than it was before.”

About six weeks removed from their last win — a Sept. 18 victory over Bryant — the Elis have recently made some offensive improvements. After being shut out for four consecutive contests, the Bulldogs have scored five goals in their last three games.

“We definitely had opportunities to score and capitalize on our chances [last weekend],” Wells said. “We still expect to win and want to maintain that determination for a full 70 minutes.”

Yale will head out of the conference Sunday to take on Lafayette. The Leopards are currently trying to claw themselves out of a three-game losing skid, and have lost eight of their past 10 games.

Unlike Columbia, Lafayette is a relative unknown for the Bulldogs. No one on Yale’s current roster has faced the Leopards during their time as an Eli.

“We have never played Lafayette in my time as a player,” Wells said. “So we will be walking in with no previous experiences against them, which can work in our favor.”

Yale has lost each of its matchups versus Patriot League opponents this year, while Lafayette has only had one Ivy experience this season, a 5–0 defeat at the hands of Penn.

Despite the unknowns, Middough said the strategy heading into this matchup is fairly simple.

“Our game plan going into these games is to just win honestly,” Middough said. “Everyone wants to give it their all, especially as the season is winding down. We want to end on a high note.”

A week from Saturday, Yale will play the Brown Bears on senior day.