Buoyed by last weekend’s upset victory over then–No. 23 UMass, the Yale field hockey team now has its final chance to emerge from a doubleheader weekend with a clean sweep.
The Bulldogs (8–6, 1–4 Ivy) split last week’s pair of games, losing 1–0 to Penn before turning around to defeat the Minutewomen by the same margin. The split pattern has held for the season thus far: Each weekend in which the Elis have played both an Ivy and a nonconference match, Yale has lost the conference match by a single goal and picked up a victory against its nonconference opponents. The Bulldogs face their final opportunity to go 2–0 on a weekend when they visit Columbia (8–7, 3–2) on Saturday and host Bucknell (8–8, 3–2 Patriot League) in a Sunday matinee.
“Our priority this week has been to focus on the fundamentals,” back Jackie Kisa ’19 said. “Forgetting the stats of who beat who and where a team is ranked compared to the other ones, our best hockey is played when our fundamental skills and 2–3 touch between players is honed and on point during a match. We hope to focus on playing as a team and to really be ruthless on shots in the offensive circle.”
The Elis picked up their first and only conference victory of the season thus far in a 5–2 win over Dartmouth two weeks ago with a hat trick courtesy of forward Carol Middough ’18. Last weekend, the team traveled to Philadelphia to face off with the Quakers but found themselves offensively limited, despite Middough leading the conference in shots, goals and points. A first-half goal gave Penn an early lead, which eventually carried the Quakers to a 1–0 victory against a Yale squad that was unable to capitalize on its opportunities to equalize.
Frustrated but undeterred, the Bulldogs responded by defeating UMass in their second one-goal game of the weekend with an early Middough-assisted goal from midfielder Olivia Levieux ’21 and nine saves by goalie Sydney Terroso ’21. Terroso stopped 14 of the 15 shots she faced over the weekend, and the victory against the Minutewomen was the first time Yale has defeated a ranked opponent since 2011.
After opening its season with a string of three losses, Columbia now has an Ivy record above 0.500, tied for third in the league. The Lions won their first two conference matches, opening Ivy play with a 4–0 shutout victory against Brown and then defeating Cornell 2–1. Yale fell to Cornell 3–2 after the Bulldogs were unable to close their three-goal deficit in time.
The Lions then fell to perennial powerhouse Princeton in a 3–0 shutout before defeating Penn with a 2–0 shutout of their own.
Given that the Elis have lost to both Cornell and Penn, the transitive property would suggest that a Bulldog victory over Columbia is unlikely. In sports. however, the transitive property rarely holds, as demonstrated by the Lions’ most recent match in which they fell 3–2 in overtime to Dartmouth.
Against the Lions, the key for Yale will be playing well early and converting offensive opportunities. The Eli defense has come a long way since early in the season, when it was forced to adjust to the absence of injured captain and back Kiwi Comizio ’18. Since then, the defense has put up a string of strong and steady performances. Terroso and the defense cannot, however, score goals for the Bulldogs.
When the Eli offense clicks, it shoots and scores often. Even with three shutout losses, Yale has averaged 2.7 goals and 16.1 shots per game through 14 matches. Against the Lions, the Bulldogs will face a defense anchored by back Maeve Doherty. On the Ivy leaderboards, Doherty has prolific production on both ends of the field. In addition to leading the Ivies in defensive saves, she is tied for second in assists and third in goals. Columbia’s defense has allowed just seven goals in five Ivy games.
The Lions have a home field advantage on Saturday, and Columbia’s 5–2 record at home is substantially stronger than its 3–4 away tally. The pair of home losses came against two ranked opponents, No. 7 Delaware and No. 17 St. Joseph’s.
“The key to having offensive success against Columbia will be utilizing our forwards and our midfielders together as one unit,” Middough said. “We have had difficulties connecting the two lines and reaching our full potential on offensive breakaways. It’s something we have been working on this week, and hopefully will be able to bring into the game on Saturday.”
Yale’s guest on Sunday, Bucknell, should also be a worthy opponent. The Bison have won five of their last six games, winning two matches 2–1 last weekend against Holy Cross and Lock Haven, with game-winning goals scored in the final 81 and 15 seconds of play, respectively. Early in the season, the Bison fell to Cornell 1–0 before defeating Columbia 4–3.
The matchup will also be the Bison’s second game of the weekend — they face No. 21 BU on Saturday.
Yale will face Columbia on Saturday at 1 p.m. before hosting Bucknell at 2 p.m. on on Sunday.
Angela Xiao | email@example.com