September 21, 2011

Defending Ivy Champs Await Bulldogs in Princeton

Bulldogs Enter Weekend Having Won Three of Last Four Games

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Just a week into the Ivy League portion of the field hockey season, the standings have already been jumbled up in a way that rarely happens. With Princeton falling to Dartmouth in the opener last Saturday -- the Tigers' first league loss in four years -- it is clear that the Ivy title is very much up for grabs this year. Princeton has won the last six championships outright, and has won or shared 16 of the last 17, but the Tigers enter play this weekend looking up in the standings at the four teams that won their Ancient Eight openers. That includes Yale, which beat Harvard 5-1 last Saturday and will attempt to top another rival with a visit to Princeton this Saturday at Noon.

Yale (3-3, 1-0 Ivy League) and Princeton (2-4, 0-1 Ivy League) both know how significant a second loss in league play is. In fact, since the league began crowning a champion in 1979, just one team with two losses has ever won a title (Cornell, 1991, 4-2-0, part of a four-way tie for first with three teams that went 3-1-2). The Bulldogs finished second in the league with a 6-1 mark two years ago, and last year their 5-2 mark tied them for second behind the Tigers.

Offense is a big reason why the Bulldogs enter this Saturday's game with momentum. On the strength of a 14-goal outburst in beating Harvard and Sacred Heart last weekend, Yale is now sixth in the country in goals per game (4.17) and fifth in assists per game (3.33). The Bulldogs have also drawn the third-most penalty corners per game (10.5).

Yale's increased offensive firepower is also reflected in comparing the games so far this season with the four common opponents from last season (Harvard, Hofstra, Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart). Yale has scored 21 goals against those four teams this season, compared to 14 against them last year.

With 12 different players scoring points and 11 different players scoring goals so far, the Bulldogs' attack is certainly balanced. Senior back Erin Carter (Perkiomenville, Pa.) tops the scoring chart (5-3-13) and is tied with senior forward Mia Rosati (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.) (5-2-12) for the team lead in goals. Rosati has a five-game point-scoring streak going. Another stat to keep an eye on is this one: when sophomore forward Erica Borgo (Randolph, N.J.) has at least one goal or one assist, Yale is 3-0; when Borgo doesn't score a point, Yale is 0-3.

Sophomore goalie Emily Cain (Laytonsville, Md.) has also emerged as a key figure for the Bulldogs. She brings a shutout streak of 99:15 into the weekend and is 13th in the country in save percentage (.793). Cain has a 1.98 goals-against average.

The Bulldogs will attempt to make some history by handing Princeton a second league loss Saturday. The Tigers have not lost two league games in a season since 2004, and that was the only season out of the last 17 in which they had more than one Ancient Eight loss.

Princeton has a different look to its roster this season because of four All-Americans who are away from school in order to train with the U.S. National Team: striker Michelle Cesan, midfielder Katie Reinprecht, midfielder Julia Reinprecht and striker Kathleen Sharkey. With the Olympics less than a year away, Cesan and the two Reinprechts have already been named to USA Field Hockey's roster for the upcoming Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, from Oct. 19-28. The U.S. could qualify for the Olympics by winning that tournament.

The current crop of Tigers is led in scoring by striker Allison Evans (3-0-6), a U.S. Under-17 National Team member, and back/midfielder Sydney Kirby (1-4-6), a four-year member of the U.S. Junior National Team. Back Amanda Bird (2-1-5), a second team All-Ivy pick last year, leads the team in shots. Christina Maida has played 350 minutes in goal, posting a .647 save percentage and a 2.40 goals-against average.

In addition to the loss to Dartmouth, Princeton has also fallen to No. 5 Syracuse (a 5-0 loss) and two teams that are among those also receiving votes in the national poll: American (a 2-0 loss) and Richmond (a 3-2 loss). Both Princeton and Yale are also among the teams receiving votes in the national poll.

Every goal Yale scores this season brings the world closer to a cure for myotonic dystrophy. Junior goalkeeper Ona McConnell (London, England) has been diagnosed with the disease, the most common form of muscular dystrophy. The Bulldogs are taking pledges for a season-long "Goal-a-thon" as part of their "Get a Grip" campaign to raise awareness and funds for the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation. For more information, visit http://www.yalebulldogs.com/getagrip

 

 

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity

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