The weather in New Haven cooled off over the weekend, but the Yale field hockey team extended its hot start with a pair of wins on Johnson Field.
Although they conceded first on Friday afternoon, the Bulldogs (3–0, 0–0 Ivy) scored three straight goals against Hofstra (1–5, 0–0 Colonial) to earn a comfortable 3–1 victory. On Sunday, Yale again drew on the combination of strong defense and a multifaceted offensive effort to defeat Drexel (4–2, 0–0 Colonial) 4–2 in a back-and-forth match and extend its undefeated streak to three, its best start to a season since 2010.
“We [initially] played [Hofstra] as the team they used to be rather than the team that stepped onto the field that day,” captain and back Jackie Kisa ’19 said. “We adjusted quickly though, beginning with us focusing on the game and our own play rather than the uncontrollable factors. Upping the communication and just reminding ourselves that we are far better when we play as a team really brought us out of our lapse.”
Coming off last weekend’s 2–1 overtime victory against Michigan State, the Bulldogs entered Friday’s match against the Pride, who had lost three straight, with the upper hand. The Elis got off to a slow start, but hit their stride late in the first period to equalize before a pair of late-game goals from forward Imogen Davies ’21 handed the Bulldogs the victory.
Despite taking the first shot and penalty corner of the match, Yale struggled to find the back of the net for most of the match’s first. Goalie Sydney Terroso ’21 — who went eight for nine against Michigan State — and the defense kept the Pride off the scoreboard with two blocks and a diving save from Terroso after two consecutive Hofstra penalty corners. The Pride, however, managed to find the back of the net five minutes later to grab a 1–0 lead.
But the Elis continued to generate offensive opportunities after Hofstra’s opening goal. In the 10 minutes immediately thereafter, six Yale players combined to register six shots and a penalty corner, while the Pride settled for just one errant penalty corner. The Bulldogs’ inability to convert on those opportunities finally came to an end with just 35 seconds left in the first period. Midfielder Bridget Condie ’20, a second-team All-Ivy pick last season, hit a laser into the back of the net to close the period tied at 1–1 and set the tone going into halftime.
Although neither squad could pull ahead for most of the second half, the Elis took early offensive control and maintained it through the period, taking five shots and drawing out four penalty corners while limiting Hofstra’s offensive efforts to two attempts at the net and a lone penalty corner.
Despite the efforts, however, the score remained knotted at one until halfway through the period, when Davies, a veteran member of Yale’s penalty corner unit who finished last season second on the team in points, took a corner for the Elis. Condie took the shot off the corner, but Hofstra goalie Betty Bosma saved it. Davies, up by the post, quickly grabbed the rebound before Bosma had properly recovered to hand Yale the 2–1 lead.
Nine goalless minutes later, Davies routed Bosma again. The sophomore swept past a Hofstra defender and, as Bosma charged out, lifted the ball past the goalie to notch the insurance goal for the 3–1 victory.
On Sunday, the Bulldogs followed up their Friday victory with a successful team effort to take down the Dragons that highlighted the importance of penalty corners and quashed questions about the team’s ability to replace the scoring output of Carol Middough ’18.
“We prepared very well for Drexel,” head coach Pam Stuper said. “We adjusted some plays, some set pieces, and the team really took all those adjustments in stride and knew what we needed to do … from what we could see, it was going to be a really competitive match.”
The Bulldogs’ four tallies came from four players, with corners again proving critical in the Elis’ offensive strategy. Yale jumped out to an early lead with a clean stroke off a penalty from the stick of rookie midfielder Theodora Dillman ’22, 16 minutes into play.
Dillman and fellow midfielder Alissa Wong ’22 have proven that they are already critical parts of the Eli offense. Wong tallied Yale’s first goal of the season against Michigan State and stepped up again rebuild the Elis’ lead after the Dragons responded to Dillman’s tally with one of their own just a minute later.
With just three minutes remaining in the first period, Yale found itself tied at one for the second time this weekend. Another corner proved critical in pulling ahead — Davies took the corner and, with an assist from Wong, forward Olivia Levieux ’21 notched her first goal of the season to end the period with the Elis up 2–1.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, another corner extended Yale’s lead when Davies teamed up with Condie again to pull ahead to 3–1. Drexel narrowed the lead back to one after another nine minutes with a goal of its own; but with just two minutes remaining, Condie forced a turnover that she took all the way to the net, handing Yale a 4–2 victory.
Once again this weekend, the Elis put together teamwide defensive efforts, success on penalty corners and depth in scoring. But the Bulldogs will face their most formidable test yet next weekend with a pair of away matches again Stanford and California next weekend.
“We hope to keep building off our success,” forward Brooke Reese ’19 said. “Every new challenge gives us an opportunity to improve and we can’t wait to test ourselves against some very talented West Coast teams.”
Stuper is in her 14th year as head coach of the Yale field hockey team.
Angela Xiao | firstname.lastname@example.org