Robbie Short

The Yale field hockey team’s seniors know struggle. The class of 2018 won just three games total and only one in the Ivy League in each of its first two years on campus. But a much improved 7–10 record and 3–4 Ivy season during their junior campaign raises expectations heading into this year and suggests that the best is yet to come.

“This season we are looking to be more aggressive and offensive minded,” forward Carol Middough ’18 said. “In the past we’ve played more on our heels and let other teams dictate our play, but this season we have the numbers and the confidence to be more offensive.”

When the Bulldogs take the field for their season opener on Saturday against Sacred Heart, head coach Pam Stuper will return seven of her 11 starters from last year.

Returning players accounted for 28 of Yale’s 35 goals last year. Leading the way up top will be Middough, the team’s leading scorer. The then-junior’s 10 goals in 2016 were good enough to earn her Second-Team All-Ivy recognition and the year’s tallies were most by a Yale player since 2011, when the Bulldogs last captured the Ivy title. Middough, whose 78 goals in a single high school season is the third-highest total ever recorded in high school field hockey history, will be the key component to the Bulldog attack.

Starting alongside Middough last year, forwards Allie Carrigan ’19 and Bridget Condie ’20 also return looking to build off their combined nine goals and six assists last year. Forward Brooke Reese ’19, who played in every game last season and was fourth on the team in goals, will also contribute to the production of a deep Yale offense.

Through the midfield, Yale returns identical twins Katie Smith ’18 and Lily Smith ’18 along with Marissa Medici ’19. The Smith sisters have each played in every game of the last three seasons. With elite speed and stick skills on the perimeter, both will be crucial catalysts to the offense in their senior seasons.

Despite all the returning talent, Yale is untested in goal. The Bulldogs graduated Emilie Katz ’17, who minded the net for every minute of the last two seasons. In her four years in New Haven, Katz was a two-time first-team All-Ivy selection and the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year her senior season, an award rarely given to goalies.

Replacing Katz will be a daunting task for Stuper, but both potential starters this year have impressive resumes. Chaney Kalinich ’19 participated in the USA Field Hockey Futures program before coming to Yale, while rookie Sydney Terroso ’21 was named the First-Team All-Star League goalie twice in high school.

“We’ve come off an intense and productive pre-season ready to be competitive and play our game,” forward Brooke Reese ’20 said. “We have a great freshman class with new talent and skills coming to use both offensively and defensively. We stuck to getting faster and stronger this spring and are building off it to enhance our team attack. Offensively, we have a ton of individual talent up front and the key will be our communication and discipline to work the ball into the goal.”

The Eli defense will also have to play without its linchpin, captain Kiwi Comizio ’18. The second-team All-Ivy honoree tore her ACL during the spring lacrosse season, and will miss the entire season. Without any rookie backs on the roster, the returning Bulldogs will have to step up to compensate for the absence of last season’s player of the year.

“Losing Emilie Katz and Kiwi this season was definitely a blow to our backfield,” Middough said. “However, our incoming freshman goalie, Sydney Terroso, has done an amazing job taking Em’s place and coming into the fold of our team.”

Sacred Heart, Yale’s first opponent, is 1–1 on the year as both team’s play on their home turf, Johnson Field, for Yale’s season opener. The Pioneers are searching for their first win in the series since a 3–2 success in 2014 and will look to snap a two-year losing streak against the Bulldogs. Yale took last year’s edition by a score of 2–0 to open the season.

The Bulldogs open the season with five nonconference games before a clash with No. 14 Harvard on alumnae weekend. The Crimson, along with No. 9 Princeton, are the only two ranked Ivy teams and the two favorites to hoist the title at the end of the season. Penn lies just a spot outside the top 25, and the Quakers will join Cornell and Columbia in competing with Yale for a top-half finish.

Yale last posted a winning record on its way to an Ancient Eight title in the 2011–12 season.

Chris | @chrisbracken16 

Matthew Mister | | @matthewmister19