For four consecutive weeks, the Yale field hockey team has played two games per weekend and emerged with a split decision. This weekend, the Elis will look to end their up-and-down run with a sweep of visitors Cornell and Bryant.
After one-goal losses to Ivy leaders No. 13 Harvard and No.14 Princeton, the Bulldogs (5–4, 0–2 Ivy) will seek their first Ivy win against Cornell (6–3, 0–2) on Saturday before playing Bryant (3–10, 1–0 NEC) on Sunday. The Big Red narrowly leads the Yale-Cornell series history, 21–17–1, but has defeated the Elis in each of the team’s’ last three meetings. For Yale’s seniors, Saturday’s game marks a last opportunity to notch a victory against Cornell.
“Even after a tough loss, our team comes out the next day ready to compete and dominate,” forward Brooke Reese ’19 said. “It’s this team’s mentality that helps us play for each other and with each other on the field.”
On the road last Friday, the Elis established a one-goal lead 17 minutes into the first half, and subsequently defended it against an aggressive Princeton offense. Just as in the match against Harvard the previous week, the scoreboard remained stagnant until the final minutes of play.
With three minutes remaining, the Tigers first scored to tie the game; then, with no time left on the clock, Princeton scored off a penalty corner, delivering the Elis their second conference loss.
On Sunday, the Bulldogs’ offensive power returned to full force, as the team trounced Lehigh 7–1. The Elis’ top scorer, forward Carol Middough ’18, delivered four goals on her birthday. The Bulldogs also got scoring contributions from first-year players Anissa Abboud ’21 and Olivia Levieux ’21, their first goals of their collegiate careers. Yale’s seven goals marked the team’s highest total of the season thus far, and equaled the Mountain Hawks’ scoring output across their previous nine matches.
“Lehigh’s game was a different dynamic [than the match against Princeton] but still just as important,” rookie goalie Sydney Terroso ’21 said. “We were able to finish on attack.”
Yale and Cornell are no strangers to competitive games: 17 of their last 21 meetings have been one-goal victories. Last year’s match, played in Ithaca, was particularly competitive: the Big Red came from behind to defeat the Bulldogs 2–1, tying Cornell head coach Donna Hornibrook for the most wins by any coach in the conference.
Although Yale took an early lead in last season’s contest, thanks to a first-half goal from forward Bridget Condie ’20, Cornell scored at the end of the half and then again late in the second period. As a response to the Big Red’s second goal, the Elis swapped goalie Emilie Katz ’17 for an additional offensive player; the personnel move prompted an offensive explosion in which the Bulldogs took six of their 10 shots of the game. All six were stopped, however, and the Big Red racked up its third consecutive victory against the Bulldogs.
This season, Yale and Cornell are both winless in Ivy play, as the Big Red has dropped matches against Penn and Columbia. While Yale’s Ivy losses have been by one goal to ranked opponents, Cornell was shutout 2–0 by Penn and then fell 2–1 to Columbia last weekend.
Cornell’s loss to Columbia was particularly shocking, considering the Big Red heavily outshot the Lions, 27–6. Over the course of the game, Columbia goalie Katie Dempsey totaled 14 saves to preserve the Lions’ lead. Dempsey has a current save percentage of .690 on the season, a mark lower than that of Terroso, who currently boasts a .788.
Against Princeton and Harvard, the Bulldogs’ defense, anchored by Terroso, kept them in the game. The team fell as a result of being stifled offensively, especially in the second halves. The Tigers outshot Yale 17–1 after halftime, while the Crimson put up 19 second-half attempts to Yale’s one. Both of those performances contrasted starkly with the usually potent Eli offense, which averages 15 shots a game.
“Everyone was stepping up and really playing their hearts out the whole game,” Middough said. “Our defense and our goalie did a phenomenal job on Friday in keeping Princeton off the scoreboard for the majority of the game.
Terroso and the Yale defense have demonstrated an ability to hold off top offenses in the games against both Harvard and Princeton, and thus should be adequately equipped to frustrate the Big Red — so long as the Bulldog offense functions at a relatively normal level. Yale’s powerful offense does not need to dominate possession in order to generate sufficient scoring opportunities.
Sunday’s game against Bryant should be less competitive than Ivy play. Bryant has lost ten of its 13 matches, and has been on the receiving end of shutouts four times this season. It has also generally allowed its opponents to walk away with high-scoring outputs. Bryant fell to Northeastern 8–1 and Maine 12–1 early in the season, and recorded blowout losses against the Elis’ Ivy peers Dartmouth and Columbia.
Bryant will enter the contest with Yale on the heels of a 4–0 loss to Drexel. Like Lehigh last weekend, Bryant could be a good opportunity for Yale to play its own game and have a strong, offensive performance. Bryant averages 4.5 shots per game and has scored 16 goals across 13 games so far this season.
Yale will host Cornell at Johnson Field at 12 p.m. on Saturday and Bryant at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Angela Xiao | firstname.lastname@example.org