September 17, 2011

Yale Starts Ivy Play with Decisive 5-1 Win Over Harvard

Four Points Each for Borgo and Schuckert

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Unfortunately for the Harvard Crimson, the Yale field hockey team came into Saturday's game on a mission. After three close losses in their first four games, the Bulldogs came out with a vengeance against their ancient rival and rode three first half scores -- two from sophomore forward/midfielder Emily Schuckert -- to an impressive 5-1 win to start their Ivy League season.

"I think over the past two weeks, we've been getting better every game, and I think all that work showed today in the way we played," head coach Pam Stuper said. "We played 70 minutes the way we can play. The mentality we had from start to finish was outstanding. We came to win today from start to finish, and I think that's the first time this year we've done that."

Yale (2-3, 1-0 Ivy League) certainly started strong, attacking early with a few early corners, but failing to convert on a flurry of bouncing balls and near misses in front of the Crimson net. But after yet another shot failed to reach the back of Harvard's net, sophomore forward Erica Borgo batted one of those bouncing balls out of the air and in to give Yale the 1-0 lead.

Yale kept the pressure up and added a second goal when Schuckert got a feed inside the circle and drove it into the far corner just inside the post to send the lead to 2-0. "Schucks" struck again just minutes later, sending a ball from Borgo beautifully through everyone in the circle and into the far corner of the net. 

That sent the Bulldogs to halftime with a 3-0 lead on the scoreboard and a telling 18-3 lead in shots. They were on their way to snapping a remarkable string of seven straight games decided by just one goal in their series with Harvard. This was also Yale's third straight win in the series, and fifth in the last seven meetings.

"I think our midfield was outstanding. I thought all four players did a great job," Stuper said. "We dominated the midfield, and that allowed us the opportunity to set up our attack."

The consistent Yale pressure returned for the second half, as the Bulldogs scored just five minutes in. Borgo was again in the middle of things, finding junior forward Maddy Sharp open at the near post for the Bulldogs' fourth tally, and Borgo's fourth point of the game.

Sophomore forward Gabby Garcia followed suit, grabbing her first career point by sending a ball through the circle to senior forward Mia Rosati, who buried it and gave Yale a commanding 5-0 lead.

Harvard (2-2, 0-1 Ivy League) mustered a late corner goal, but it was much too little too late for the Crimson. Sophomore goalie Emily Cain got the win without needing to make a save in 57:18 of action, while freshman goalie Heather Schlesier finished off the game with a pair of saves in her first varsity action.

The final shot total was 36-7, and the Bulldogs took home a crucial win ahead of next weekend's showdown with last year's Ivy League Champion Princeton, which dropped its first Ivy League contest since 2007 Saturday against Dartmouth.

Yale's win came in front of a large crowd at Johnson Field on hand for Alumnae Day, including some alums who addressed the team before the game to help get ready for the Crimson. Prior to the game Yale also paid tribute to the team's first head coach, Barbara Bowditch, who passed away last weekend.

"The first Ivy game is a big win no matter who you are playing. Obviously when it's Harvard it's always a battle, and makes it even better," Stuper said. "But it's not over by any means. A game like this gives your team confidence, and that's the most important thing."

Report by Chelsea Janes '12, Yale Sports Publicity