Despite dropping its 2–0 halftime lead, the Yale field hockey team persevered to emerge victorious against Penn in a hard-fought overtime contest on Saturday at Johnson Field.
With the memory of their win over Dartmouth still fresh in their minds, the Bulldogs (6–8, 2–3 Ivy) took to the field this past weekend anticipating a difficult challenge against Ivy League rival Penn (9–5, 3–2). The Elis led 2–0 going into the first half, but were unable to maintain their lead as the Quakers scored two goals in quick succession before the final whistle. The game was sent into a dramatic overtime period, which Bulldog captain and midfielder Steffi Katz ’17 ended with a powerful goal, earning Yale its first victory over the Quakers since 2011.
“I think we played good, aggressive hockey and were really resilient [today],” head coach Pam Stuper said. “We’ve been in a really good place, and I think that the Dartmouth win was big for us. Scoring [seven] goals got everyone believing we can generate attack, and we came out hard to start [against Penn], which was exactly what we intended to do. We followed the game plan and scored the two goals.”
Despite allowing Penn to snatch two quick penalty corners in the first few minutes of the game, the Bulldogs claimed the majority of possession in the first half. Forward Bridget Condie ’20 drew a penalty corner in the 15th minute of the contest, which fellow attacker Allie Carrigan ’19 converted into the first score of the match and her fifth goal on the season.
Forward Carol Middough ’18, the team leader with eight goals in 2016, contributed the second of the Bulldogs’ regulation-time strikes off a slick pass from forward Danee Fitzgerald ’17. Middough received the ball on her reverse stick and swung powerfully, sending in a backhand shot past Penn netminder Liz Mata. Middough once again spearheaded Yale’s offense, claiming four of the Elis’ 13 shots on goal.
“I was trying to get a corner but nobody went for the ball, so I just took the shot and it went in,” Middough said. “I think this is our [second] game this season we had to go into overtime, so it’s definitely great to have not given up and to finish with a win.”
But the Quakers soon took control of the second half by firing in two masterful penalty corner goals in less than two minutes to level the scoreboard. The Bulldog defense struggled to find the outlet passes that had previously given the team so much time on the ball, and the Eli attackers followed an eight-shot first half with just two shots in the final 35 minutes of regulation.
The Penn offense, on the other hand, took 11 shots in the half and had three opportunities to take a one-goal lead in the final six minutes of regulation. Eli goalkeeper Emilie Katz ’17 was called upon to make a dive with just two minutes left on the clock, denying Quaker forward Sofia Palacios’ sixth shot on goal and sending the match into overtime.
“At halftime we talked about how … Penn is a team that does not quit. They’re not going to sit back and just pack it in, and so [the goals] didn’t surprise me,” Stuper said. “I was a little frustrated with the second one coming so quickly, but [Penn is] a good team, and we know what it’s capable of. I thought our players showed tremendous resilience in the second half … and they were confident going into overtime because we practice it every week.”
As the weather grew progressively wetter and windier, the game became more intense and difficult. The field opened up with only six players and a goalie allowed for each side in overtime, placing a massive workload on players chasing the ball. The action flew back and forth between the two ends of the field, with each team attempting several shots.
But in the end, it was Steffi Katz who delivered the deciding blow. Fitzgerald collected the ball off a rebound from one of her own shots and passed it quickly across to Katz, who was waiting in front of the goal. The captain took a rapid-fire forehand volley and snapped the ball into the back of the net, securing the Elis’ first victory over Penn in five seasons and its second conference win in a row.
“We were physically able to overcome our exhaustion when we went into overtime, and we felt the momentum because we had reconnected towards the end of the second half,” midfielder Marissa Medici ’19 said. “We kept each other positive, and I think that was key. It made the biggest difference in this game.”
With the win, Yale improved to 2–3 in conference play, cementing the team in a four-way tie for fourth place in the Ancient Eight. The Bulldogs will continue their slate of home competition next weekend as they host Columbia on Saturday at 12 p.m.
Matthew Mister contributed reporting.