The Yale field hockey team (2–1–0, 0–0–0 Ivy), playing away in two games this weekend, will be looking to answer lingering questions about the direction of their season as the Ivy League season draws closer.
The team showed promising but inconsistent play this past weekend, beginning with a loss to local rival Quinnipiac (1–5–0, 0–0–0 Big East) and followed by a win against Hofstra (3–4–0, 0–0–0 Colonial). As the Bulldogs travel to play Central Michigan (0–6–0, 0–0–0 Mid-American) on Friday and Michigan State (3–4–0, 0–0–0 Big Ten) on Sunday, the same uncertainties remain unanswered.
“For this weekend’s games we’re especially going to focus on coming out with intensity from the start of the game and maintaining that energy for a full 70 minutes,” midfielder Marissa Medici ’19 said.
Yale has shown early that it is able to score with both breadth and depth. In the team’s season opener against Sacred Heart (2–4–0, 0–0–0 NEC), forward Carol Middough ’18 scored three goals,continuing her performance in the past two years as the Bulldogs’ highest-scoring player. But Yale’s dominance in that game did not rest on Middough’s hat trick alone, as forward Brooke Reese ’19, midfielder Holly Jackson ’20 and forward Bridget Condie ’20 each netted a goal, allowing the Elis to come away with a sound 6–2 victory.
Although the game against Quinnipiac proved disappointing, Yale again demonstrated the breadth of its offensive potential. Middough led in shots taken, but the pair of goals scored came from Jackson and Condie.
In the win against Hofstra on Sunday, the Bulldogs’ five goals came from five different shooters: midfielder Iliana Cabral ’21, midfielder Katie Smith ’18, forward Camille Scheyer ’20, midfielder Imogen Davies ’21 and Middough. Cabral and Davies marked the first goals of their respective careers.
“[Jackson] has shown at practice that she’s definitely capable of scoring goals this year,” head coach Pam Stuper said. “I think we have her in a position on the field to be able to have those opportunities.”
Three games into the season, the Bulldogs have a total of eight players who have scored at least one goal. Returning almost all of its members from last season and adding young and promising rookies, the team’s potent offense and ability to find the back of the net is clear, a trait that should be on display this weekend.
Defense, however, is where both of these upcoming games will be won or lost. Rookie goalkeeper Sydney Terroso ’21 has adequately filled the role of Emilie Katz ’17, the team’s former goalkeeper and last year’s Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. Terroso has a current save percentage of 0.680, but the Yale defense still lacks cohesion and precision.
Part of this is no doubt due to an injury to defender and captain Kiwi Comizio ’18. With the unanticipated absence of Comizio on the field, the team must define a new balance and find new leadership and playmakers to step in on the defensive end if their performance this season is to become consistent and dependable. In addition, the talented and aggressive offensive nature of the team so far demands that the focus be more deliberately shifted toward defense so that energy is high regardless of where the ball is being played.
Balance and dynamic will be critical for Yale, and this weekend’s results will partially be determined by the starting lineup Stuper plays, especially given the pattern in the first three games of early momentum determining final results. Although the team returns most of last year’s starters, Stuper has instead chosen to start a mix of veterans and rookies. In Friday’s game against Quinnipiac, three of 10 starting field players were first years, and three more players had started in three or fewer games last season. Noticeably absent from the starting lineup were Smith and her sister Lily Smith ’18, a seasoned duo that, in play, gives the Bulldogs significant firepower and menace.
The teams the Elis play this weekend are a mixed bag and the last ones Yale will face before beginning Ivy play against Harvard, but the Bulldogs say they are taking it one game at a time.
“Every game has importance,” Terroso said in an email. “In terms of games, whether it be an Ivy team or a nonconference team, the team has the same approach.”
Central Michigan is still hungry for its first win of the season after six losses, four of which saw the Chippewas fall with a deficit of three or more goals. Central Michigan struggled last season, closing with a record of 1–17–0. While the Bulldogs did not play the Chippewas last year, Central Michigan did face one Connecticut team: Quinnipiac, a team the Chippewas defeated in overtime for their only win.
Michigan State should be the closer of the two games. Each of its three wins so far — against UC Davis (0–6–0, 0–0–0 Big West), Cal (3–3–0, 0–0–0 Pac-12) and Vermont (2–3–0, 0–0–0 America East) — have been by one goal, with Cal and Vermont determined in overtime. The Spartans’ losses have been less closely contested, with the exception of a 3–2 loss to then No. 25 Old Dominion (3–3–0, 0–0–0 Big East).
Yale plays Central Michigan at 3 p.m. Friday and Michigan State at 12 p.m. Sunday.
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