Despite a three-goal first half, the Yale field hockey team fell at its final hurdle against Brown on Saturday, missing the opportunity for a winning Ivy League season.
The Bulldogs (7–10, 3–4 Ivy) entered the contest 3–3 in conference play, searching for their first over-0.500 conference season since 2013. However, this dream will have to wait another year to be fulfilled. The Elis looked to be in a fantastic position for a win going into halftime with the score at 3–1, but the Bears (8–9, 3–4) had other plans. Yale was unable to hold its lead in the second half, as Brown chipped away the goal difference one shot at a time. In the end, the Bulldogs ended their 2016 season on a disappointing 4–3 loss.
“We’re going to work on performing under pressure in the off season and tightening up some of our fundamental skills,” midfielder Marissa Medici ’19 said. “Having a rough end to the season has fueled our fire going into the off-season.”
The Elis began the game with a flurry of goal opportunities as forward Bridget Condie ’20 smashed in two shots in the first three minutes, one coming off field play and the other off the first penalty corner of the game. However, the Bears retaliated by forcing the second penalty corner just moments later. Neither team was able to convert the shots into goals, and so the score remained at a blank until the Bulldogs worked up another drive midway through the first half.
Midfielder Kiwi Comizio ’18 fired in a warning shot, forcing Brown goalkeeper Katie Hammaker to make her fourth save of the match. The ball rebounded off Hammaker to forward Allie Carrigan ’19, who sent the ball into the net at close range for her sixth goal of the season. Almost exactly 10 minutes later, Yale captain and midfielder Steffi Katz ’17 drew the Elis’ second penalty corner of the half. Forward Carol Middough ’18 fired the ball into the goal, assisted by Katz and Comizio, propelling the Bulldogs another step ahead of the Bears.
However, Brown tried to keep the pressure on the goal-hungry Elis and managed to turn the tables for a brief moment with less than three minutes left. A long pass down the right side of the field allowed the Bears to make a quick breakaway, and senior Jaclyn Torres hammered in Brown’s first goal, her eighth of the season. Yale retaliated within the minute as Katz drew another penalty corner. Forward Lily Smith ’18 took the first shot, but was unable to get it past Hammaker. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, forward Danee Fitzgerald ’17 was ready and waiting, and she pounced on the rebound, smacking a third goal for Yale.
“[At half time] we adjusted our press to add more pressure on Yale’s backfield,” Brown head coach Jill Reeve said. “Beyond that, I think our team just really wanted it. They played harder in the second half, took more chances and fought for every possession. That’s what it took to beat Yale’s very talented team.”
The Elis’ lead crumbled in the second half as the Brown attack swamped the Bulldog defense. The Yale forwards took a meager three shots in the entirety of the second half, with just one of those shots going on goal. By contrast, the Bears vamped up their shooting skills, slamming in 11 shots to Yale’s three. Eli netminder Emilie Katz ’17 made 10 saves overall in the game, which, when added to her season total, places her second for goals saved in Ivy League rankings. Even after the loss, Emilie Katz achieved the best save percentage in the Ancient Eight at 0.758 and was named Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year.
But even Katz’s sterling goalkeeping could not keep the Bears at bay. Five minutes into the second half, Brown fired in two shots and then drew a penalty corner, which captain Katarina Angus put into the back of the net. The scoreboard now read 3–2, with Yale still in the lead. The Bulldogs fought to keep the lead for almost 10 minutes, but ultimately the pressure was too much. After another penalty corner and two more shots in quick succession, the Bears sent in the equalizing goal. The final tally of the game came with 10 minutes to play, as Brown’s control of play resulted in the goal which stole the victory right out of Yale’s hands.
The Elis had one last chance to salvage the game by sending it into overtime. With less than three minutes left on the clock, Steffi Katz pulled one more penalty corner in a last-ditch attempt to regain control. Middough, who leads the Bulldogs with 10 goals this season, took aim and fired in what could have been the game-changing goal. But it was not to be — Middough’s shot was blocked, and the score remained at 4–3 for the rest of the game.
In the end, Yale was unable to pull off the win and conceded its 10th loss of the season. However, the team’s record reflects an improvement over last season, when the Bulldogs won only three games, losing 14. In addition, the Elis have scored 35 goals this season compared to last season’s 20, and an increase in green cards from eight to 24 is indicative of the increased momentum the team has invoked this season.
The Bulldogs close out the season on somewhat of a bitter low. A win in this final match would have placed them tie for third in the Ivy League, but instead they sit in fifth place, tied with the opposition — Brown — that denied them any higher place. However, because this season marked an improvement over 2015, the Elis can expect to move up in the Ivy League rankings next year.
Yale will graduate four seniors this season.