Under a cloudless blue sky and in temperatures above 80 degrees, the Yale field hockey team came away from two low-scoring overtime games with an even record for the weekend and a heightened sense of what is possible for an increasingly scrappy and improving team.
Celebrating the program’s 45th anniversary with Alumnae Weekend, the Bulldogs (4–3, 0–1 Ivy) squared off against No. 16 Harvard (6–2, 1–0) on Saturday and Liberty (3–5, 1–1 Big East) on Sunday. The Blue fell, 2–1 in overtime, to defending Ivy League champion Crimson in its first conference game of the season before turning around to defeat Liberty 1–0 in double overtime.
“Everyone was crucial on the field,” forward Bridget Condie ’20 said. “We went in trying to play as a team, pass as a team, defend as a team, attack as a team.”
The Yale stands during Saturday’s game were filled with fans and former members of the team who returned to celebrate the dedication of the Carol Roberts Field House. The field house will be Yale’s first facility dedicated entirely to women’s sports and will include locker rooms, a training room and an observation deck for the field hockey and softball teams.
In the Bulldogs’ first game at home since their season opener against Sacred Heart, Harvard proved a relentless opponent from the start. The Crimson’s first penalty corner and shot came only three minutes into the first half, and although the Elis fought back with a shot from forward Carol Middough ’18, Harvard took four more shots in the opening 20 minutes.
Despite entering the game as heavy underdogs, the Bulldogs found the back of the net first with Middough scoring 19 minutes into the half to give the Elis the first lead.
Yale’s defense remained aggressive throughout the heat of the day. Intense pressure prevented the Crimson from linking up on many of its passes and kept Harvard from getting into a rhythm.
Several times in the first half, Harvard came within feet of scoring with play right in front of the Eli net, but the Bulldogs crashed well to the cage. The Elis’ defensive pressure and saves kept Harvard scoreless for the first 35 minutes, despite both teams taking six shots each. The Bulldogs ended the half in possession and high spirits, amplified by the energy of the returning alumnae, some of whom were on campus for the first time since their graduation.
“The energy we see from the girls, and the stands full of alumnae from different years, is just great,” former player Georganne Nattress ’85 said.
Returning to the field for the second half in the lead and feeling exuberant, Yale was well aware of its opponent’s ability. Less than a minute into the half, Harvard took two penalty corners and four shots. Rookie goalie Sydney Terroso ’21 made three saves in that flurry before Yale could finally clear. The half continued in that vein — Harvard, with a deep roster, relentlessly putting up shots against a Yale squad that was determined to hold onto its early lead.
For 65 minutes, the Bulldogs, substituting often in a battle against Harvard and the heat, successfully frustrated the Crimson, despite being heavily outshot in the second half, 19–2.
With five minutes remaining on the game clock and the scoreboard unchanged since Middough’s first-half goal, Harvard called a timeout and pulled its goalie to put in another field player. In the final five minutes of the second half, the super-charged Harvard offense put up two shots, both saved by Terroso, before junior Kathleen Young scored for the Crimson off a rebound to tie the match with only 36 seconds left on the clock.
“We had 19 shots taken on us in the second half,” Yale head coach Pam Stuper said. “At some point, it’s hard to keep all 19 out. We were fortunate in that nothing got in earlier and unfortunate that one did finally get in.”
In overtime, Harvard took two more shots and Terroso made one final save before Harvard first year Tessel Huibregtsen scored after 74 minutes of play to deliver the Crimson’s first conference victory in the only meeting of the ancient rivals this year.
Harvard put up 28 shots, one more than Yale did against Central Michigan last weekend when the Elis set a conference high for shots this season. Terroso made an impressive 17 saves, keeping her team in the game and, for much of the day, in the lead. Against the highest-ranked team they will play this season, the Bulldogs proved that they can match the play of any opponent.
“A win makes it a lot easier to feel good about yourself, but to me, it comes down to performance,” Stuper said. “We played as well as we could play, we went after it, so I feel really good.”
Yale turned around the next day to face the Lady Flames in a game in which both teams took numerous shots but were unable to score. In the first half, each team shot seven times with Middough leading the Bulldogs with four attempts. A combination of blocked and missed shots by Liberty meant Terroso had to make only one save, which came late in the half. In the second half, the Lady Flames put up a stronger challenge, outshooting Yale 8–5, with Terroso making five more saves to keep the game scoreless. Condie led the Elis in second-half shooting, putting up three attempts.
At the conclusion of 70 minutes, the game remained scoreless, forcing the Bulldogs into their second overtime period of the weekend. Liberty made two shots, one blocked and one saved by Terroso, while Middough and Condie would each shoot once more before, after 79 minutes of play, Middough found the back of the net to score her and Yale’s second goal of the weekend and give the Bulldogs a 1–0 win.
Terroso’s seven saves against the Lady Flames brought her weekend total to 24. With the victory, Yale remains above .500 on the season.
The Bulldogs will travel next weekend to play No. 17 Princeton on Friday at 6 p.m. and Lehigh on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Angela Xiao | firstname.lastname@example.org