Forward Carol Middough ’18 rippled the back of the net just 97 seconds into the Yale field hockey opener, and neither she nor her teammates took their foot off the gas as the Bulldogs smashed Sacred Heart 6–2 to open their season in dominant fashion.

Middough, last season’s top scorer, finished with a hat trick, while also assisting on a first-half goal from forward Brooke Reese ’19, as the Elis exploded offensively. Their six-goal tally is already more than one-sixth of last season’s entire output and marks the first time Yale has put six tallies up on the Pioneers since 2013–14, the last time the Elis hoisted the Ivy League title.

“Our opening game shows how much progress we’ve made as a team compared to last season,” Middough said. “The game against Sacred Heart is usually a much closer competition and to pull away with a 4–0 lead in the first half alone was huge for us. This game gave us a lot of confidence and will carry us into our next game against Quinnipiac.”

Yale opened the scoring with a smartly worked penalty corner. Midfielder Imogen Davies ’21, making her collegiate debut, and veteran midfielder Katie Smith ’18 combined to set up Middough for the first goal and give the Bulldogs a dream start.

With just under 20 minutes elapsed, Middough doubled the lead, finding herself in a perfect position to slot home the rebound of a blast from forward Bridget Condie ’20. Yale’s top scorer in each of the last two seasons then turned provider, flicking the ball across the face of goal in the air over the goalie. Reese, perfectly positioned at the far post, was able to leap up and turn the ball into the empty net to put the Elis up three.

Back Holly Jackson ’20 got in on the action just before halftime, racing forward and firing a low shot that skipped perfectly into the far corner, evading the reach of Sacred Heart goalie Emily Degennaro.

“The key to our offensive success on Saturday was our speed and our discipline to be in the right places for one another off ball,” Middough said. “If we continue to do what we did offensively on Saturday we will be even more successful in the future.”

The Pioneers did not roll over and found goals on either side of halftime to claw their way back into the game at 4–2. However, rookie Sydney Terroso ’21 stood tall in the Yale goal, filling the hole left behind by the graduation of Emilie Katz ’17, who played every minute in goal the past two seasons and was named Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year last year.

Terroso was one of six Bulldogs to make her debut on Saturday, including four in the starting lineup. On both sides of the field, the rookies gave the Elis a hint of the bright future to come.

Davies assisted on the victory-clinching goal with just under six minutes to play, her second helper of the day. She drove down to the endline past a couple of Sacred Heart defenders before picking out Middough with a precise cutback. The senior made no mistake to finish her hat trick and provide the Elis with some valuable insurance.

“Our communication and our ability to work off each other were extremely important as it gave us the ability to keep the pace of the game high with strong rotating lines,” Reese said.

Condie put the finishing touches on a promising start to the season with a smart finish from distance that skipped past Degennaro to provide the final margin of victory. For a team that has struggled to find the net at times in the past few years, the powerhouse offensive display foreshadows a more successful year, especially given the contribution from numerous players beyond Middough.

The Bulldogs did ride their luck on defense at times, as they struggled to contain Pioneer forward Kelsy Hopkins, who netted twice and fired five shots at goal. Missing captain Kiwi Comizio ’18 for the season, the Elis will have to figure out how to contain more talented attacks than Sacred Heart when they begin Ivy League play.

“We know that we definitely could have been a lot tighter and more aggressive defensively, but for the first game of the season it was a pleasing performance overall,” Jackson said. “Losing Kiwi has obviously left a big hole but it means underclassmen have the perfect opportunity to step up and get experience at the start of their college careers. I know [Sydney] was nervous starting the first game as a freshman but she put in a great performance.”

The triumph marks Yale’s third successive victory over the Pioneers and eighth in the past nine years. The aggregate score over those nine years is 43–9, although the series has been much closer in recent seasons.

The Bulldogs are back in action on Friday at Quinnipiac.

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