The Yale field-hockey team suffered a bitter 3–0 defeat at the hands of No. 11 Princeton on Saturday, falling to the Tigers on Yale’s home turf for the 44th season in a row.
Princeton (6-–3, 2–0 Ivy), taking to the field on a two-win streak, furthered its chances of yet another Ivy League title with Saturday’s outcome. Yale (4–5, 0–2), although prepared for a difficult, gritty game, fell for the second time in Ivy play in as many weeks.
“I thought we played really well, especially considering they’re ranked No. 11,” defender Kiwi Comizio ’18 said. “We didn’t really get many scoring opportunities, and unfortunately I don’t think the score reflects how the game actually went. But now we know what we’re capable of, and we can hang with the best of them.”
In the first half, stellar defensive work from Yale prevented Princeton from scoring off four consecutive penalty corners. However, the first and only goal of the half came off the Tiger’s fifth corner of the game. With just under three minutes left on the clock, and the score line reading 0–0 due to strong defense on both ends, Princeton broke away up the right-hand side of the field and forced the Bulldogs to foul in the circle, conceding the final penalty corner of the first 35 minutes. A smooth out pass paired with a well-directed stick deflection resulted in a goal that saw Princeton take the first lead of the match.
This was only the second time that the Tigers have actually scored off a penalty corner this season; before this, they had received 54 penalty corners, but had only been able to convert one into a goal. In contrast, Princeton received nine penalty corners in this battle, three of which resulted in goals.
“All of [Princeton’s] goals were scored on corners, so at least we had to make them earn them,” Comizio said. “But unfortunately, when you play that much defense, some chances are going to fall for them, and they did.”
The Bulldogs chose to play a tactically defensive first half in order to keep Princeton’s notorious forwards Ryan McCarthy and Cat Caro from putting the ball in the back of the net. This meant that Yale had fewer opportunities to shoot for goal, evidenced by the fact that the Bulldogs had just one shot in the first 35 minutes, but eight in the second. Princeton, on the other hand, fired in nine shots up front, but could only manage eight — the same as Yale — in the second half.
Midfielder Marissa Medici ’19 took one for the team toward the end of the first half, when play began to get more aggressive. She received a blow to the nose when the ball flew up off a Tiger’s stick and into her face. The game was stopped for a few minutes as Medici left the field, helped by Yale assistant coaches. According to Comizio, Medici is bruised, but will be fine for next weekend.
Focused on keeping the Tiger’s drive in check, the Eli offensive line struggled to maintain its attacking stance as it was obliged to also help out with defense, constantly running up and down the field. Long balls evicted from the back line seemed unable to find the Yale forwards’ sticks, and the Bulldogs found it difficult to maintain possession once the ball had been cleared. Princeton’s backs played high up the field for long stretches of play, marking out the Eli attackers and preventing Yale from implementing its long hitting game.
However, the Bulldogs did not spend the entire first half stuck in defense. Just three minutes into the game, the Elis missed a potential goal on the far post by a small margin. Forward Cat Kurtin ’18 drove the ball into the circle, switching it quickly across the face of the goal in an attempt to find the stick of forward Danee Fitzgerald ’17. The ball flew just wide of the mark, stopping the Bulldogs from taking an impactful lead less than five minutes into the match.
“We had 90 percent of possession in the first five minutes of the game,” defender Holly Jackson ’20 said. “Later on, though, they just took their chances, and we didn’t.”
Jackson was solid in defense throughout the game, often finding herself as the last player between goalie Emilie Katz ’17 and the Tigers. The Elis kept Princeton from getting the final touch in the circle, suffocating the Tigers’ offense.
In the second half, the Bulldogs came back with a renewed intensity, forcing Princeton goalie Grace Baylis to make her first save of the game with 1:26 on the clock. Yale forward Carol Middough ’18 fired in a shot, but was denied what would have been her first goal since she played against Georgetown, two weeks ago. She was responsible for five of the Bulldog’s nine shots of the match, all in the second half. Forward Bridget Condie ’20 also delivered, taking two shots in the game.
Katz had yet another excellent game, saving 10 of Princeton’s 13 shots on goal. This gives her a 0.750 save percentage this season and a total of 54 saves this campaign.
The Tigers managed to fend off a Bulldog onslaught in the final five minutes of the game, as Yale sought to put together a feisty comeback. However, two penalty corners and three shots could not give the Elis the goals they were looking for, and the score stayed at 3–0 when the final whistle blew.
“Ironically, it was probably the best game we’ve played this season,” Condie said. “[Our head coach Pam Stuper] was really happy with how we played.”
Next weekend the Bulldogs have a double header away, playing Cornell on Saturday and Bucknell on Sunday.