The Yale field hockey team concluded a winning season for the first time since 2011 with a shutout against Brown that showed the squad at its best and gave fans a taste of the possibilities for upcoming seasons.
The Bulldogs (9–8, 2–5 Ivy) finished a season that was laden with inconsistency, featuring both moments of potential and great disappointments. They entered Saturday’s match with just one Ivy win, against Dartmouth, but also Yale’s best win-loss record since 2011’s Ivy Championship-winning season. The Elis, with five seniors on Johnson Field for the last time, pulled out a 4–0 shutout in front of a Family Weekend crowd to cap a historic, if imperfect, season of improvement.
“It feels amazing to finally have a winning season,” forward Carol Middough ’18 said. “It was one of our long-term goals that we set as a team after last season and to reach that goal is just a product of the handwork and the commitment that all the players have put in since then.”
Yale opened its season with a promising 6–2 defeat of Sacred Heart. With the graduation last year of goalie and Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year Emilie Katz ’17 and the season-long injury-induced absence of captain and back Kiwi Comizio ’18, the Bulldogs’ back end sometimes looked shaky in the early matches, most prominently in a 2–4 loss to Quinnipiac.
However, the backline, anchored by rookie goalie Sydney Terroso ’21, quickly found its rhythm, and the team looked poised for Ivy success in its conference opener against No. 16 Harvard, when Terroso made a league-high 17 saves. The Bulldogs held off the Crimson, then atop the Ivy League, for 65 minutes and ultimately lost in overtime. The next weekend, they faced No. 14 Princeton, again leading a ranked squad until the final minutes and eventually losing by one.
Yale’s Ivy campaign, however, continued to frustrate. After Harvard and Princeton mounted successful comebacks to deny the Elis morale-boosting wins, the Bulldogs fell by one goal to Cornell, Columbia and Penn, and were winless in Ivy play until a 5–2 victory against Dartmouth in mid-October. The Elis kept their season’s win-loss record afloat with wins in non-conference play following almost every disappointing Ivy loss, notching a notable 1–0 victory over then-No. 23 UMass two days after falling to the Quakers.
“Even though we had some disappointing moments this season, we grew a lot as a team and learned a lot about each other and the sport we loved,” forward Brooke Reese ’19 said. “We went head to head with nationally ranked teams, competing at the highest level against top-ranked opponents.”
Saturday’s game was a fitting close to the careers of the team’s seniors and represented a symbolic passing of the torch to the younger members of the squad. After Reese scored the first goal for the Elis, Middough led her team in typical fashion with her third hat trick of the year.
The Bulldogs took seven shots in the first 30 minutes, but Brown goalie Katie Hammaker kept the game scoreless until Reese shoved a rebound shot into the net with just five minutes remaining in the first half.
Two minutes later, Middough extended the lead to two with a drive through the Bears’ defense and a goal placed in the top of the net. Back Holly Jackson ’20 blocked a Brown attempt two minutes later, and the Elis finished the first half leading 2–0.
Returning for her final 35 minutes in the blue and white, Middough settled in for a swan song worthy of her stellar career. With just over 10 minutes remaining, Middough scored again for the Elis, netting her 40th career goal. Then, with two and a half minutes left, she scored for a third time, off an assist from forward Annina Zelkin ’20.
Middough entered the weekend leading the Ivy League in points and shots and tied for first in goals. She now stands alone at the top, with 40 points, 18 goals and 104 shots across 17 games. Her season point and goal totals place her third in school history in those categories, and her 41 career goals place her third on Yale’s career-goals list, even though her first season was largely derailed by illness.
Terroso made a pair of saves on a last-second corner from Brown to total four for the game and earn her fourth shutout of the season. With that, the Yale field hockey careers of Middough, Comizio, midfielder Katie Smith ’18, midfielder Lily Smith ’18 and back Tess Thompson ’18 came to a close.
“Though our Ivy record did not show it, I would sum up this year as one of incredible growth,” Middough said. “To finally turn the corner and have a winning season sets up next year’s team and the teams to follow to be very successful.”
Sixteen of Yale’s players will return next season.
Angela Xiao | email@example.com