Bulldogs Limit Stags to One Shot
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The time spent out in the cold, driving rain on Sunday afternoon at Johnson Field proved to be worth it for the Yale field hockey team, as the Bulldogs got a win (6-0 over Fairfield) and a number of significant individual milestones -- the school record-tying 14th assist of the season by senior midfielder Katie Cantore and the first career goals for senior forward Lesley Kiger and freshman back Lexy Adams.
Sunday's game wound up showing that the Bulldogs had learned their lesson from Saturday's 5-2 Ivy League win over Dartmouth. After jumping to a 3-1 halftime lead in Saturday's game, Yale allowed the Big Green a 19-6 edge in shots in the second half. Only a great performance from senior goalkeeper Charlotte Goins (11 saves, including 10 in the second half) kept Dartmouth from rallying back. In the spirit of avoiding a similar lapse Sunday, head coach Pam Stuper reminded her team at halftime of the saying that in football, the "prevent defense" -- in which a team with a lead changes its defensive strategy in order to try to maintain that lead -- only "prevents" the team using it from winning.
"We wanted to stop playing with the mentality of a ‘prevent defense' when we're up 3-0," Stuper said. "We wanted to stay aggressive and do the same thing in the second half that worked in the first half. The team got it."
The end result was a dominating performance for the full 70 minutes. After outshooting the Stags 11-0 in the first half, Yale outshot them 15-1 in the second. Goins had no work in the first half, and junior Katie Bolling came on in the second and batted away Fairfield's only shot (48 minutes into the game) with her blocker.
By then Yale had built a 4-0 lead. The Bulldogs scored off a corner 11 minutes in, as junior back Marissa Waldemore knocked in a shot by senior back Julia Weiser.
Fairfield (4-11) only threatened to get near the Yale goal once in the first half, when junior back Erica Cullum intercepted a long pass and got it quickly back up the field.
The Bulldogs had four corners in a span of 12 minutes midway through the period but did not score. They finally got back on the scoreboard when sophomore midfielder Dinah Landshut drove the ball along the baseline and fed it to sophomore forward Mia Rosati, who quickly got it to freshman forward Mary Beth Barham for a goal at 27:09. Landshut then assisted on a goal by senior forward Ashley McCauley 90 seconds before halftime, and the Bulldogs were on their way to their seventh win in the last 10 games.
Waldemore, who has established career highs in goals (five) and points (14) this season, scored again at 45:44 off the first career assist by sophomore midfielder/forward Chelsey Locarno. The Stags then had their one shot for the game stopped by Bolling and the Bulldogs quickly re-established control. Adams came on as a sub and was pressed into playing on the forward line; she immediately knocked the ball past Fairfield keeper Caitlin O'Donnell with an assist from sophomore midfielder/back Taylor Sankovich, Sankovich's first assist of the year.
"Lexy has practiced very well the last few weeks," Stuper said. "She's in a tough spot. We've got an experienced backfield. One of the positions I would slide her into is the one Julia plays, but we can't afford to go without Julia's leadership on the field. We had to put Lexy at forward when she got in there. Every day in practice the entire team shoots for 15 minutes, so the backs are shooting as much as anyone. Lexy made the most of the opportunity she got."
Kiger added one last highlight, lining a low shot past O'Donnell on a penalty corner for her first career tally. Appropriately, Cantore got her school record-tying 14th assist on that goal in the role she has filled so well in her time at Yale -- stick stopper on corners. She is tied for the record with Sarah Driscoll '05 (2002 and 2003) and Maggie Smeal ‘82 (1979). She also took sole possession of second on Yale's career assists list (27, 15 behind all-time leader Driscoll).
McCauley's two points leave her with 91 for her career, seven away from the Yale record set by Emily Montgomery '78. With 40 career goals McCauley is also six away from Montgomery's mark in that category.
Sunday's achievements were all the more notable given that they occurred in the type of miserable weather that could have been a distraction. Stuper pointed to Weiser as a key reason why the Bulldogs were unfazed by the conditions.
"Julia's leadership has been incredible this year," Stuper said. "Thursday's practice was in the same conditions. Julia pulled the team aside and said ‘This is what it's going to be like for the next four days. Be ready.' We stepped out Thursday and had a great practice. Our staff and the players on the bench managed the game conditions today as well as possible. We did what we could to stay dry, and then once you step out on the field it's gameday."
A vocal leader, Weiser also made a more subtle statement Sunday by being one of only two brave souls (Fairfield midfielder Carly McCullough was the other) to go without long sleeves in the cold and wet conditions.
Yale (8-5, 3-1 Ivy League) resumes action Thursday, 3 p.m. at Quinnipiac. The Bulldogs are still within reach of a 12-win season, which would tie for third in school history.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity