After a heartbreaking overtime defeat against No. 14 Harvard last weekend, the Yale field hockey team will travel to play against No. 16 Princeton on Friday night in a game against a team it has not beaten since 1977, a span of 40 years.
Still seeking their first conference victory, the Bulldogs (4–3, 0–1 Ivy) will face the Tigers (4–4, 1–0) on Friday night before turning around to play Lehigh (2–7, 0–2 Patriot League) in a Sunday matinee. Although Princeton’s only losses have come to opponents then-ranked among the top five schools in the nation, Yale’s battle against Harvard showcased their ability to compete with nationally ranked opponents.
“That [Yale has not defeated Princeton in 40 years] actually comes up every year,” forward Carol Middough ’18 said. “We use it as motivation because everyone wants to be a part of the team that breaks the streak.”
Last Saturday, the Bulldogs took an early lead on a finish from Middough, the team’s top scorer, and kept a high-powered Harvard offense off the scoreboard. The Bulldogs held on to that 1–0 lead against a talented Crimson attack until the final minute of the second half.
With 36 seconds to play, Harvard netted a dramatic equalizer on its 19th shot of the second half to force the match into overtime. In the extra period, Yale proved unable to fend off Harvard and the game-winning goal came with just four and a half additional minutes played.
“The fact that we had so much depth, even after we lost the ball, or once we won the ball, so there were some options off the ball, really contributed to the way we played,” forward Bridget Condie ’20 said.
Although the Bulldogs have been powered by a prolific offense, which averages 16.4 shots per game, the match against Harvard saw Yale largely starved of possession and offensive opportunities. Instead, the team’s improving defense kept it in the game — the Bulldogs and Crimson each took six shots in the first half, but the Elis managed only two attempts to Harvard’s 19 in the second.
Playing their second game in as many days, the Elis emerged successfully from overtime with a victory against Liberty on a sudden-death winner from Middough. Rookie goalie Sydney Terroso ’21 made a total of 27 saves over the course of the weekend as Yale conceded only twice. She was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week for her stellar netminding.
Princeton represents a formidable opponent. The Tigers are currently on a three-game winning streak, with their last loss a 2–1 nail-biter to then-No. 4 Duke two weeks ago. Princeton upset then-No. 10 Maryland 2–1 just two days later as its embarked on its winning roll. This past weekend, in Princeton’s first Ivy League game of the season, the Tigers blanked Dartmouth 5–0, then followed that up with a 1–0 victory over then-No. 24 Boston University the next day. For her weekend performances, Princeton forward Ryan McCarthy ’18 was named Ivy League Player of the Week.
Although the Tigers have one more defeat than the Bulldogs thus far, their four losses have come against top-tier opposition: then-No. 1 UNC, then-No. 3 Delaware, then-No. 3 Penn State and Duke. The Tigers lead the Princeton-Yale series 41–2–3.
Offensively, Princeton and Yale both shoot aggressively — the Tigers average 14.5 shots and 2 goals per game while the Bulldogs check in at 16.4 and 2.4, respectively. A win against Princeton would change the outlook of the season.
“I feel really good that if we continue to play the way we are capable of, we’ll have positive results [for the rest of Ivy League Play],” Yale head coach Pam Stuper said.
The Mountain Hawks should be a less challenging opponent than any of the teams Yale has played in the last two weeks. Lehigh failed to score in five of its seven defeats and the Mountain Hawks managed a solitary goal in the other two losses. Thus far, the Mountain Hawks have only recorded victories against LIU Brooklyn and Siena and have scored just 7 goals in nine games.
In Lehigh’s last game against then-No. 22 American, the Mountain Hawks fell 4–0 and were outshot 15–3. Against a rapidly improving Yale defense anchored by Terroso in goal, Lehigh should find it similarly challenging to score.
Yale will play Princeton at 6 p.m. Friday and Lehigh at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Angela Xiao | firstname.lastname@example.org