A doubleheader weekend kicks off the 2019 season for Yale field hockey, as the Bulldogs are set to host the University of Massachusetts and Sacred Heart in what should be an early preview of the consistency with which the Elis hope to play throughout the regular season.
The Bulldogs (0–0, 0–0 Ivy) have had a long history of starting off hot — it has been five years since they have dropped their season opener. Yale begins play on Friday, hosting an opponent that they will match up with for only the fourth time in program history: UMass. The following Sunday, the Bulldogs take on in-state adversary Sacred Heart in what has proved to be a very one-sided affair over the years — leaning heavily in the Bulldog’s favor. With two formidable opponents in their first weekend of play, the Elis will look to continue their trend of early-season success.
“We are excited to head into opening weekend, ready for some good competition and thankful to our coaches for putting us in a position to win. We have every confidence in the coaching we have been given and we have every confidence in each other and our training. We have worked hard through preseason and are eager to step onto the field together again,” said Théodora Dillman ‘22.
The Minutewomen will provide Bulldogs fans the opportunity to see how the Elis’ chemistry translates onto the field against a team the Bulldogs are not accustomed to playing. In its previous three matches, UMass boasts a slight edge over the Elis with a 2–1 record. But, in the teams’ most recent matchup two years ago, Yale managed to pull out a shutout victory behind a dominating performance from the team’s defense and then-rookie goalie Sydney Terroso ’21.
With a nine-save effort against a then-NFHCA ranked team, Terroso cemented herself as one of the premier goalies in the Ivy League, and she hopes to have another successful performance in net against the Minutewomen on Friday at Johnson Field.
UMass finished its most recent season with a 10–10 record to earn a ranking of 33 in the NCAA RPI, four spots higher than Yale. This season, however, the Minutewomen have gotten off to a shaky start, having been shutout in their first two games. One of the team’s key players that is poised to give the Bulldogs’ defense a run for its money is captain and forward Lucy Copper. A member of the Atlantic 10 All-Conference Second Team, she completed her sophomore season with 30 points which included nine goals and 12 assists and finished the year red–hot with at least one goal in five of her final six games.
Another player the Elis will focus on is elite midfielder Sophie De Jonge. The team’s best stick stopper, she tallied seven assists in the 16 games she played in to earn a spot on the Atlantic 10 First Team.
After its bout with UMass, Yale remains in New Haven to take on their Nutmeg State rival – Sacred Heart – in a rivalry that the Bulldogs have dominated for the past decade. Since the 2009 season, these two teams have battled it out 10 times with the Elis winning nine of those contests. The Elis have not lost to the Pioneers since 2014, when Yale posted a 3-14 record.
Sacred Heart has begun the 2019 season in similar fashion to UMass, starting off with an 0–2 record. That is not to say, however, that the Bulldogs should go into this game with the mindset of an easy win – Sacred Heart boasts many talented players on its roster including forward Colleen McAninley, who is coming off a season in which she tallied nine goals while her 22 total points ranked seventh in the MAAC conference, earning her Second-Team All-Conference honors.
Another excellent player taking the field for the Pioneers on Friday is forward Kelsy Hopkins. The seven goals she scored in 2018, three of which came as a hat–trick, ranked second on the team and tenth in the conference. Similar to her teammate McAninley, she also earned a spot on the All–MAAC Second–Team.
In the seven doubleheader weekends the Elis played last season, they were swept in two of them, split three and went undefeated in the remaining two. In two of the three weekends that Yale went 1–1, it was the first of the two games that Yale dropped. To improve on the team’s ten victories from last season and improve their win total for the fourth consecutive season, the Bulldogs need to prove that they are capable of playing the first game with the same energy and consistent play that they enter the second game with.
“We feel confident going into this weekend after our preparation this preseason,” forward Anissa Abboud ’21 said. “We’re super excited to begin the season officially.”
Yale plays UMass on Friday at 6 p.m. before taking on Sacred Heart on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Jared Fel | firstname.lastname@example.org