The Yale field hockey team paid the price for a trio of costly errors this weekend, falling to both Cornell and Bucknell on the road.
The Bulldogs (4–7, 0–3 Ivy) lost their third conference game, a heartbreaking 2–1 defeat in Ithaca, despite scoring the first goal against the Big Red (6–6, 1–2) in the Saturday afternoon rain. Cornell capitalized on Yale’s mistakes, pouncing on a dangerous pass across the top of the circle in the first half of the match and converting a penalty flick that arose from a desperate Eli attempt to save a goal in the second half. On Sunday, the Bulldogs stretched their losing streak to five with a 1–0 loss to the Bison (5–7, 1–2 Patriot).
“Cornell was a game we should have won,” midfielder Marissa Medici ’19 said. “We were much more cohesive and together on Sunday [against Bucknell], and that was also a game that we should have won.”
Cornell overpowered Yale for much of the first 35 minutes of the game, pressuring the Bulldog defense by keeping its passes quick, short and accurate. The Elis’ hard hits to send the ball running the length of the field were ineffective when countered by the Big Red’s constricting defensive scheme, which interrupted Yale’s control of play.
But midway through the first half, Yale’s attack retained possession and began to race up the pitch. With ball on stick, the Bulldog forwards — including Carol Middough ’18 and Bridget Condie ’20 — used their dribbling skills to outwit the Cornell back line and fire shots once in the circle. Fourteen minutes into the contest, Middough used her stick skills to weave the ball into the corner of the field and into the feet of a stumbling Big Red defender, drawing the Elis’ second penalty corner.
Cornell rushed out and successfully blocked Middough’s first strike from the top of the circle, but back Kiwi Comizio ’18 was on hand to catch the rebound. She found Condie just outside the left of the circle, where the freshman collected the ball and smacked in a quick-reaction power hit to score the first goal of the game and her second of the season.
“It’s always exciting when you put a play together and then score [on] it … with pure connections,” Condie said. “It’s always fun to score, but it’s really fun when everyone is involved in the scoring.”
Cornell attempted 12 shots on Yale’s goal, a third of which were pumped in by forward Krysten Mayers, who was responsible for the Big Red’s first score with just over five minutes to play in the first half. After intercepting a lazy pass by defender Holly Jackson ’20, Mayers dribbled up to the right goalpost and outwitted goalkeeper Emilie Katz ’17 by putting the ball on her reverse stick and slapping a backhand shot into the open goal. Following the Yale miscue, the Bulldogs and the Big Red went into halftime with the score tied at 1–1.
Yale began to take more risks in the second half, but earned more fouls as a result. Both sides nearly doubled their first-half foul counts in the second period, with the Bulldogs committing 27 in the final 35 minutes. The Elis fouled more frequently in the circle and thus conceded eight penalty corners, putting more pressure on the defensive and penalty-corner units.
“I think they were able to create more opportunities than us when they got inside the circle,” Comizio said. “We were able to pick it up in the second half and start generating more attack, but weren’t able to capitalize.”
The Big Red’s game-winning goal near the second half was not the result of a penalty corner, but rather a penalty flick. Mayers once again sped up the field, and took a close shot that Katz stopped. The ball rebounded to Big Red forward Sam McILwrick, whose second-chance attempt was blocked by the body of a Bulldog defender.
Cornell forward and South Africa native Kirsten Pienaar took the consequent penalty flick and aimed it tactically level with Katz’s waist. Katz reacted quickly, but the ball looped over her stick and into the goal, putting Cornell ahead for the first time in the match.
With just over 10 seconds left on the clock, the Bulldogs forwards tried to drive up the center channel, but couldn’t seem to get out of each other’s way. The ball bounced from Cornell stick to Yale stick but never settled in either team’s possession. By the time the final whistle blew, the score was still 2–1, and the Elis had suffered yet another bitter defeat.
“That was the most frustrating thing — knowing that we could have won the game,” Condie said. “We’re so close, and it will click soon … everyone is working so hard and doing their part.”
Yale faced Bucknell in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania the following day. Once again, Yale struggled to maintain possession, as the Bison players used short passes to make their way around the Eli defense.
While the Bulldogs stood strong defensively throughout the game -— Yale’ penalty corner unit cleared 10 corners and Katz made seven saves — the Elis found it difficult to link their backs to their forwards. Their long hits simply went out over the attacking back line to give the Bison possession instead of building offensive momentum. The Bucknell players spotted pockets of empty space on the field and blocked several long balls to stifle the Eli attack.
Yale amped up the pace in the second half, taking four more shots than they had in the opening period. Just over 10 minutes after halftime, Condie moved the ball quickly up the field, but the offense couldn’t get into position to receive the ball from the top of the circle. The Bulldogs were not able to convert this drive, or several others, into circle penetrations, and thus had few opportunities to score.
The only goal of the game came off another unfortunate Yale error. An untimely Bulldog foul allowed Bison defender Anna Wills to dribble the ball into the circle and outmaneuver Katz with a cross. The pass hit Comizio and bounced right into the arc of Bucknell midfielder Estelle Palandjian, who gave the Bison their go-ahead goal.
“The team is disappointed,” Jackson said. “We know in both games that we didn’t play our best. Looking ahead to Dartmouth, the team is spurred on by the thought of our first Ivy League win.”
The Bulldogs have another road doubleheader next weekend, when they take on the Big Green on Saturday and UConn on Sunday.