A week removed from a major victory over Hofstra last Sunday, the Yale field hockey team will face two new challenges this weekend when it matches up with No. 17 Albany and unranked foe Georgetown.
Albany (3–3, 0–0 America East), which hosts the Bulldogs on Saturday, is one of three nationally ranked opponents on Yale’s (3–1, 0–0 Ivy) schedule and was rated as high as No. 8 in the country at the end of last season. Georgetown (2–4, 0–0 Big East) will come to New Haven a less formidable foe, having gone 8–11 last season and started off 2016 in an equally middling fashion.
Though both teams finished last season with far better records than Yale’s, momentum is clearly on the Bulldogs’ side heading into the weekend. Albany has lost its past three contests to No. 4 Penn State, No. 10 Princeton and Bucknell, while Georgetown, after winning its first two games of the season, is currently riding a four-game losing streak. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, enter the two games with a victory behind them, a 4–2 result over Hofstra that marked Yale’s third win of the season — already matching its victory tally from 2015.
“We did a good job of defense last week, especially with our marking in the circle,” back Kiwi Comizio ’18 said. “Especially on Sunday, we did a very good job of passing, the simple passes with quick touches.”
Despite the Great Danes’ 0.500 record at the start of the season, the six games they have played include dominant wins and close losses. Albany has scored 17 goals in total, far more than the 10 goals it has allowed its opponents.
The Bulldogs have also showed off a strong offense in the early going, boasting an average of 2.5 goals per game — not far behind Albany’s mark of 2.83 goals per contest.
“As a team, I think we would definitely want to carry over our offensive intensity from this past weekend,” forward Carol Middough ’18 said. “Scoring four goals in the first half against Hofstra displayed what we’re truly capable of accomplishing.”
Albany forward Paula Heuser leads the Great Dane attack, having scored six of her team’s 17 goals in six games. Yale’s leading scorer, Middough, is just shy of Heuser with three goals in four contests.
The Great Danes have beaten the Bulldogs every time they have met since 2011, with much of that success coming off Yale mistakes; over the past three years, the Elis have allowed 41 penalty corners to Albany, while the Great Danes have surrendered just six to Yale. Eight of Albany’s 10 goals against Yale in that span have come off those corners.
However, with Albany coming off three straight losses and Yale boasting a 0.750 winning percentage, the teams may be on more level ground this year than they have been in the past.
“We’re excited to play a top team, and our defense and midfield are really strong at the moment, so I’m excited,” forward Alyssa Weiss ’17 said.
After the matchup in Albany, the Bulldogs will come home to meet Georgetown at Johnson Field. The two teams have not played each other in recent history, but the Hoyas should be a good test for a Yale team hoping to show its improvement over last season.
Georgetown goalie Rachel Skoneki is one of the standouts on the roster. The senior has already accumulated 55 saves in six starts this season, and her 0.753 save percentage ranks 20th best in the NCAA. By contrast, Yale netminder Emilie Katz ’17, an All-Ivy First Team selection in 2015, has a nearly equal save percentage of 0.739 while making just 17 saves behind a more impenetrable Yale defense.
The Bulldogs have made 65 shots this season, one shot more than the Hoyas although Georgetown has played two more games. Yale also takes the lead in assists, with eight assists over Georgetown’s five this season.
“We had a really good start to the season, and a lot of talented freshmen, which adds to the program,” forward Cat Kurtin ’18 said. “We have a lot more depth this year, which we lacked last year due to injury.”
Yale will begin action at Albany at 12 p.m. Saturday, and Sunday’s game against Georgetown will start at 2:30 p.m.
Contact Sarah Geach at firstname.lastname@example.org