With four of Yale field hockey’s next six opponents currently ranked 16th or higher in the nation, the Bulldogs will get a taste of what it’s like to play some of the NCAA’s best in what could prove to be their toughest three weeks of the season. That stretch starts this weekend with a trip to Virginia, where the Bulldogs will play No. 16 Liberty and No. 6 Virginia.
The Elis (1–1, 0–0 Ivy), coming off a dominating shutout against Sacred Heart to earn a split in its two games last weekend, hit the road to the Mother of States, where two nationally ranked teams await. The two-game weekend series begins with a matchup against Liberty (3–0, 0–0 Big East) on Saturday. As their overall record suggests, the Flames have gotten off to as hot of a start as any team could hope to have — an incendiary streak that the Bulldogs are hoping to extinguish. The following Sunday, the Bulldogs take on their second-highest ranked opponent of the season in Virginia (4–0, 0–0 ACC). The Cavaliers have come right out of the gate playing at a very high level, as one would expect from one of the top 10 teams in the nation.
“We are excited to play some of the top-ranked teams,” goalkeeper Sydney Terroso ’21 said. “Away trips are always a fun team bonding experience and this weekend will be a great opportunity to get better.”
This will be the second straight weekend that Yale will clash against a team it is not accustomed to playing. The Bulldogs have played the Flames and Cavaliers a combined three times in program history — once against Liberty and twice against Virginia.
The one time that the Elis faced the Flames was a recent 2017 home contest, when Yale come out victorious in overtime, 1–0. Then-rookie Terroso, who tallied seven saves in the shutout, was aided by the backfield’s stellar performance, which players later described as some of the best defense played in recent team history. Fastforwarding to this season, Liberty has been playing nearly perfectly on both sides of the field, scoring a total of 13 goals in its first three games while conceding just one score.
Liberty boasts a loaded roaster packed with talent and depth, showcased in their two star defensive players. Mallory Fortenbaugh, who is now entering her final season, had a career year in 2018. During the past season, she put up 11 assists and 19 total points, ranking second and third on the team, respectively. Her .58 assists per game ratio ranked 17th in the country, and also earned her a spot on the NFHCA National Academic Squad. Meanwhile, junior defender Ashley Dykema earned a spot on the NFHCA All-South Region second team, the All-Big East first team (for the second straight year) and the VaSID All-State first team, as well as the opportunity to compete in USA Field Hockey’s 2019 Young Women’s National Championship.
The Cavaliers began their season in an equally impressive fashion, winning all four games without surrendering more than one goal in any of those matches. Much of this is due to the team’s amazing goalkeeper, Lauren Hausheer, whose play during the 2017 season as a redshirt first-year earned her a sport on the 2019 U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team. Her .842 save percentage through four games ranks ninth in the nation.
Virginia’s top goalscorer is junior Makayla Gallen, who lays claim to four goals and also played this summer at USA Field Hockey’s Young Women’s National Championship. She will compete at the U21 team selection camp this December. Last season, she finished with four goals and two assists, ending with a .765 on-goal percentage. The last time that the two teams faced off was in 2013, when Yale suffered a 6–1 defeat. The earlier time that the teams played each other also resulted in a Yale loss.
“We have nothing to lose but a lot to prove [this weekend],” forward Imogen Davies ’21 said. “These teams are ranked much higher than us but I think we have the ability to give them a really great game and fight for a result. The team is ready to put in two great performances and help us build [momentum heading] into the Ivy season right around the corner!”
Yale heads to Liberty for a 1 p.m. showdown on Saturday before rolling into Charlottesville on Sunday for a 2 p.m. match against Virginia.
Jared Fel | firstname.lastname@example.org
Madison Hahamy | email@example.com