Just two weekends and four matches into the season, the Yale field hockey team has already matched its win total from 2015.
Following a disappointing 3–14 finish last year, the Bulldogs (3–1, 0–0 Ivy) entered this past weekend after winning their first two games. Despite stumbling on Saturday against Lafayette (4–1, 0–0 Patriot), Yale rebounded nicely and dominated play on Sunday against Hofstra (2–4, 0–0 Colonial) in a 4–2 victory.
“I was really proud of the way our team bounced back from a disappointing loss yesterday to perform the way we did [Sunday],” back Tess Thompson ’18 said. “We made the necessary changes and took care of the things that we didn’t on Saturday, so it was exciting to come away with a [win].”
The Bulldogs suffered their first loss of the season against Lafayette on Saturday, losing by a narrow margin of 3–2.
The Leopards opened the scoring in the first half on Saturday afternoon with a scrappy goal that saw the Bulldogs’ defensive line finally broken. Yale had denied Lafayette on three penalty corners before the goal, but the Leopards were ultimately able to beat Eli goalkeeper Emilie Katz ’17 following a scramble for the loose ball in front of the net.
Exactly 10 minutes later, however, the Bulldogs retaliated and returned the scoreline to equilibrium following a penalty corner. Forward Carol Middough ’18 whacked the ball over the Lafayette keeper, notching her second goal of the season.
Both teams entered halftime with the score still locked up at one apiece.
The Leopards came back strong in the second half, scoring two goals within the first 18 minutes of the half with no immediate response from the Bulldogs. With eight minutes to play, it appeared as though the Leopards would put away the Bulldogs in methodical fashion. Forward Allie Carrigan ’19 and back Kiwi Comizio ’18, however, had other plans.
With 7:44 remaining, Carrigan slung in Yale’s second goal, assisted by Comizio, to cut the deficit in half. This was Comizio’s third assist of the season, already a career-high for her just three games in. The comeback effort stalled as Lafayette maintained possession for the majority of final minutes, and when the final whistle blew, the score remained 3–2.
“It was a tough loss, but I think it really fired us up to start playing more consistently at the level we know we’re capable of,” Comizio said.
Seeking to avoid a weekend sweep, the Bulldogs returned on Sunday with renewed aggression against Hofstra.
In an offensive explosion, the Bulldogs fired in four goals in the first half en route to a 4–2 final over the Pride, a team that had beaten Yale four consecutive times prior to this match.
The first-half performance was a rarity, as Yale has only scored four goals in a half twice since October of 2013.
Midfielder and forward Lily Smith ’18 knocked in the Bulldogs’ first goal in the fifth minute of the game, though Hofstra responded five minutes later when Claudia Marin Samper of Spain scored her fourth goal of the season. Less than a minute later, forward Brooke Reese ’19 put Yale back into the lead, and that lead was cemented by forward Danee Fitzgerald ’17, who scored Yale’s third goal off a penalty stroke. Middough added to the carnage with a goal in the 24th minute of the match.
Facing a demoralizing 4–1 deficit at halftime, the Pride was spurred to action, including a change of goalkeeper. However, the Bulldogs withstood a more aggressive 35 minutes of play by Hofstra.
“Defense is all about discipline in terms of positioning,” Katz said. “We were really disciplined today at being in the right positions to prevent [Hofstra] from taking quality shots, and that really frustrated them.”
Hofstra managed to outshoot Yale 10–4 in the half, but many of those attempts were to no avail. A goal by Stella Schoen in the 66th minute was the sole goal for either side in the half, and not enough to change the outcome of the game, as Yale sealed the 4–2 victory.
“Hofstra was a huge win for us, and foreshadows other big wins as we move forward,” Comizio said.
Yale’s next test may be its toughest of the young season when it takes on No. 12 Albany.
The Bulldogs fell 2–0 in a tight contest between the two teams last season, when the Great Danes were ranked sixth in the country.