This weekend, the Yale field hockey team takes on its highest ranked opponent this season, No. 11 Princeton, the program that has captured the Ivy League title every year since 2005.
The Tigers (5–3, 1–0 Ivy) have triumphed over the Bulldogs (4–4, 0–1) each time the two teams have met in recent history. Princeton has scored a total of 21 goals against Yale in their last five encounters, averaging over four goals per match. By comparison, the Bulldogs have only been able to notch three tallies against the Tigers in the same five-year period.
However, through the first eight games of the current campaign, Princeton’s goal count of 18 is just two more than the Elis’ 16, and both teams have been scoring at an average of two or more goals per game. Princeton started its season with narrow 2–1 loss to then-No. 1 North Carolina, but are currently riding a two-game winning streak. And despite Yale’s promising start to the season, the Bulldogs suffered a pair of losses last weekend and will look to avoid falling into the same losing pattern as last year, when they began a 12-game skid at the end of September.
“The team is very excited, and hoping for a big upset this weekend,” forward Bridget Condie ’20 said. “We’ve been practicing a very specific game plan, and are hoping to get the W. But all in all, the team is meshing really well, so regardless of the outcome, we’ll stay together and keep pushing to do better.”
The Elis have already faced two ranked opponents, losing their first encounter to then-No. 17 Albany — a team Princeton beat 3–1 in its third game of the season — by a score of 2–1, and falling 3–1 to then-No. 18 Stanford.
“When I look at scheduling, I try to make sure that we’re playing some tough teams early on,” head coach Pam Stuper said. “Princeton is always a powerhouse in our league, so you want to make sure you’ve seen some similar style of play.”
Both teams have played just one Ivy League match, but with very different outcomes. Harvard dominated the Elis last Friday, winning 2–0 in a game that saw Yale’s offensive force completely shut down. A day later, the Tigers demolished Dartmouth in a 4–0 shutout.
Princeton’s upward trend is highlighted by the placement of two players on the Ivy League honor roll for this week. Junior Ryan McCarthy scored three goals in her last two matches, and freshman Charlotta von Gierke made three assists in those same games. McCarthy has made a total of 29 shots this season, with a .793 shot-on-goal percentage. She ranks first in goals scored in the Ivy League standings with six tallies, and is first overall in points, with 16. Fellow forward Cat Caro is tied for second in goals scored, with five.
Bulldog forward Carol Middough ’18 will be a key player for Yale in the upcoming encounter. Despite not taking any shots in the game against Harvard, she bounced back and claimed eight of the Elis’ 17 shots in the battle with Stanford two days later. Middough is tied for second in the Ancient Eight in goals scored, with five to her name. She boasts a high 0.676 shot on goal percentage, just over 0.1 percent less than McCarthy.
Another Eli who plays a pivotal role in the team is goalkeeper Emilie Katz ’17. She has made 44 saves so far this campaign, putting her in second place in the Ivy League rankings — three spots higher than Tiger goalie Grace Baylis, who sits at fifth with 31 saves.
However, Katz has a higher goals against average of 1.87, compared with Baylis’ 1.63, which is indicative of the greater number of goals scored against Yale than against Princeton.
“Emilie is always very solid in goal,” defender Kiwi Comizio ’18 said. “She did an especially good job on defensive corners [on Friday].”
In their last four games against Princeton, the Bulldogs have received just six penalty corners. On the other hand, the Tigers’ penalty corner count against the Bulldogs totals a massive 41 over the same time period.
This season, Princeton averages 6.375 corners per game, and Yale a much lower 0.205 in the same number of meets. This discrepancy underscores the importance that penalty corners will have in this weekend’s match up.
“League play is always exciting and Princeton is a great opponent,” forward Alyssa Weiss ’17 said. “We’re looking to clean up some things from last weekend and move forward onto our next Ivy game.”
The Bulldogs will face the Tigers on Johnson Field at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday.