Robbie Short

Facing a Cornell team that has lost five of its last seven games, the Yale field hockey team aims to break its 140-minute scoreless drought in conference play on Saturday and notch their first conference win of 2016.

Despite starting the season with two consecutive wins, the Elis (4–5, 0–2 Ivy) have since lost both of their Ivy League games and find themselves slipping into a stretch of defeat reminiscent of last year’s 12-game losing streak. Cornell (5–5, 0–2 Ivy) has also lost both of its Ancient Eight contests thus far, but enters the weekend having won three of its last four matchups in the rivalry’s history. The Bulldogs venture to Ithaca on Saturday and hope to face Bucknell (4–6, 1–1 Patriot) on Sunday with an Ivy League win in the books.

“Cornell is always well-coached, and [Saturday’s game] is a critical match in our Ivy League play,” back Tess Thompson ’18 said. “It will be our first weekend [this season] with two games away, but we feel ready for the challenge and hope to bring home two wins.”

The Elis and the Big Red will go head to head on Saturday with a history of close encounters. Over the last 20 years, 16 of the meetings featuring the two teams have been decided by just one goal. So far this season, Yale and Cornell sport almost identical shots-per-game records, with the Bulldogs taking 14.1 shots per game compared to the Big Red’s 14.2. However, Cornell boasts a 2.50 goals-per-game average, much higher than the Elis’ 1.80 tally.

Yale goalie Emilie Katz ’17 will be tasked with halting the Big Red offense this weekend. The senior has already accumulated 54 saves in her nine appearances this year, placing her second in the conference in total saves. Katz has also achieved a 0.750 save percentage, slightly higher than the 0.700 clip of Cornell’s Kelly Johnson and Maddie Henry, who have split time in goal this year.

Bulldog forward Carol Middough ’18 has played a pivotal role on the offensive side. The Oceanport, New Jersey native has scored five of Yale’s 16 goals this season while contributing almost half of the Elis’ total number of shots on goal. Middough’s underclassmen counterpart, forward Bridget Condie ’20, has also added firepower to the Bulldog attack. Despite having scored just one goal in her freshman campaign, Condie has claimed 13 shots on goal to go along with three assists, good for second on the team behind Kiwi Comizio’s ’18 career high of four.

Facing Cornell, Yale will have to contain Katie Carlson, who has powered in a team-high seven goals in her 10 starts this season. Carlson’s offensive prowess has been defined by her efficiency, achieving her goal tally with just 21 shots, half as many as Middough has attempted this year for the Elis. The junior is complemented on the attacking front by teammate Krysten Mayers, whose three goals on the season rank second on the Big Red stat sheet.

“I definitely think it’ll be a very good game because we’re pretty evenly matched,” Comizio said. “We’re all so excited, especially because it would be our first Ivy win.”

A day after facing Cornell in Ithaca, the Bulldogs will travel to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania to take on Bucknell. The Bison enter the weekend with a 4–6 record, falling to a quartet of top-ranked teams: No. 4 Syracuse, No. 5 Penn State, No. 12 Princeton and No. 19 Albany. Yale has only met Bucknell (4-6, 1-1 Patriot) once in the last eight seasons, losing 4–1 in 2015. Both the Bison and the Bulldogs have suffered three-goal defeats at the claws of the Tigers in 2016, with Bucknell losing 5–2 and the Elis enduring a 3–0 wipeout.

Bucknell’s offensive output closely resembles that of the Elis; Yale has scored 16 goals to Bucknell’s 17, though the Bulldogs own a slight advantage in total shots on goal. Both squads boast similar leading attackers, as Yale’s Middough will be matched by Nicole Rupnik, who has also put in five goals in 2016. Bucknell’s offense will be further bostered by Brittany Willworth, whose four goals represent a slight edge over the trio knocked in by Yale forward Danee Fitzgerald ’17, the Bulldogs’ second highest goal scorer.

On defense, Bison goalie Emily Finn shares only a name with Yale’s Emilie Katz, while differing drastically in the defensive circle. Finn has been called on for 76 saves this year, dwarfing Katz’s total of 54. The first-team All-Ivy netminder has let in just 18 goals this season, while Finn and the Bison have allowed nearly double that number.

“I think offense will be really key in both games,” forward Alyssa Weiss ’18 said. “We’ve been playing really solid defense … [and] capitalizing on our opportunities will be the difference maker [in] what ultimately determines the weekend.”

Yale’s game against Cornell will begin at 12 p.m. on Saturday, and the match against Bucknell starts at 2 p.m. on Sunday.