Team Features Deep and Talented Senior Class
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale field hockey team has increased its team goal total for four straight seasons. The Bulldogs return nine starters from last year. They have a pair of goalkeepers with All-Ivy credentials anchoring the defense. Combine all those facts with the presence of a deep and talented group of seniors ready to make a difference in their final season, and it's easy to see why there are high hopes for 2009. Yale opens the season Friday (3:00 p.m., Live Stats) against Sacred Heart, then hosts Northwestern Saturday (2:00 p.m., Live Stats).
Here is a position-by-position look at the Bulldogs:
Two seniors lead the way for Yale at forward. Lesley Kiger, who has also seen time at midfield, has made great strides in the last two seasons. She appeared in a career-high 14 games last year and picked up her first career point with an assist. Classmate Ashley McCauley has developed into one of the premier scoring threats in the NCAA during her time at Yale. After being held without a goal for the first 17 games of her career, McCauley has scored 29 goals in 31 games since then, placing her fifth on Yale's all-time goals list. A second team NFHCA All-Mideast Selection and a unanimous first team All-Ivy League pick last year, McCauley is a complete player who uses her athleticism and hustle to contribute at both ends of the field.
The Bulldogs also have a pair of junior forwards, as Vicki Gordon makes the transition to that position after playing back her first two years. Gordon has one of the hardest shots in college field hockey. Johna Paolino has appeared in 13 games in each of her first two years, bringing great vision and awareness to the field.
The lone sophomore forward is a good one; Mia Rosati started every game last season, contributing three goals and two assists. She is a five-time USFHA Futures participant with the instincts of a true goal scorer. The Bulldogs also have one freshman forward, Maddy Sharp (La Jolla, Calif.). Sharp was a two-time first team Western League player at La Jolla, where she won best offensive player awards in both field hockey and soccer.
The Yale midfield is once again anchored by Katie Cantore, a two-time All-Ivy League honoree (second team last season, honorable mention the year before) who had a breakout campaign in the scoring column last year. One of Yale's primary playmakers since her freshman season, Cantore racked up a career-high 10 assists in 2008 -- many of them thanks to her work as stick stopper on penalty corners. Her game sense and competitive mentality put her in the upper echelon of Yale's all-time midfielders.
Behind Cantore the Bulldogs have a large group of talented younger players. The X factor for the offense this season is sophomore Kirsten Krebs, who missed her freshman season with an injury. Krebs was the PIAA District 4 Outstanding Female Athlete at Selinsgrove Area before coming to Yale, and brings a tremendous athleticism and work ethic to the midfield while also being able to play forward. Classmate Dinah Landshut made the Bulldogs glad they expanded their international reach last year; the German import finished second on the team with six goals and 17 points. She adds a wide variety of goal-scoring moves and offensive creativity to the Yale attack.
Sophomore Chelsey Locarno, who can play midfield or forward, is one of the most versatile athletes at Yale -- in addition to playing softball for the Bulldogs last spring, she's also got golf, gymnastics, ice hockey and skiing on her resume from her time before coming to New Haven. She appeared in 13 games last season. Another versatile sophomore, Taylor Sankovich, could see time at midfield or at back. Sankovich appeared in 14 games last year, including five starts, and brings playmaking ability and passing skills to the Yale attack.
Freshman Mary Beth Barham (Fairfax, Va.), who can play midfield or forward, was a key part of three Liberty District championships, two Virginia state tournament appearances and a Northern Region championship at W.T. Woodson High. A National Futures participant, she has the makings of a player who can contribute greatly to the Yale attack with her offensive skills.
The Yale backfield includes two seniors whose contributions go well beyond the field. If you're trying to measure the impact Stephanie Colantonio has made in her first three seasons in New Haven, just check her trophy case: she has earned the three Yale Field Hockey team awards that symbolize the respect her teammates and coaches have for her (Senior Award, 2006; Coaches Award, 2007; Amanda Walton Award, 2008). The consummate teammate, Colantonio appeared in a career-high 11 games last season and brings excellent tackling skills to the backfield.
Captain Julia Weiser is as complete a student-athlete as you'll find; she emerged as a starter during her freshman season and -- along with Cantore, Colantonio and McCauley -- is a three-time NFHCA National Academic Squad honoree. Her innate leadership and communication skills are complemented by her skill on the field, where she is one of the team's top defenders and a primary option on penalty corners. She started all 17 games last year, scoring four goals.
Junior Erica Cullum made a big move up the depth chart last season, appearing in all 17 games. She supplements her defensive skills with enthusiasm and spirit. Classmate Marissa Waldemore has been a starter since her freshman season, and her stick skills enable her to play midfield in addition to back if needed.
The lone sophomore defender is Erin Carter, who made an instant impression in her freshman season and earned 14 starts. She brings vision and strength to the Bulldog defense, along with good bloodlines -- her mother, Brenda, played for North Carolina.
Freshman Lexy Adams (Lancaster, Pa.), who was part of a state championship at Penn Manor last year and a state runner-up the year before, will look to make a contribution in the backfield as well.
The Bulldogs have the rare opportunity to choose between two All-Ivy Leaguers in goal. Senior Charlotte Goins was a second-team pick in 2007, when she finished third in the NCAA in save percentage (.804) and fifth in saves per game (8.71). She led the Ancient Eight in saves with 148, 60 more than the second-place finisher, and was second in the league in save percentage. Junior Katie Bolling earned second team All-Ivy honors last season, also finishing third in the NCAA in save percentage (.809). Bolling had some of her best efforts against the top teams in the country, including a career-high 15 saves in Yale's near-upset of then-No. 4 North Carolina, the defending national champions. She was one of the most improved players in the country, having not played a minute in goal her freshman year. Freshman Ona McConnell (London, England), the MVP of the West Hampstead hockey club, adds to Yale's depth in goal.
report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity