No. 4 UConn Eludes Yale, 1-0
Cain Makes Five Saves
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Against just about any other team in the country, the Yale field hockey team's effort on Sunday afternoon at Johnson Field would have been good enough for a win. But against the No. 4 team in the country, UConn, it was only enough to leave the Bulldogs just short of an upset. UConn forward Marie Elena Bolles' goal at 40:22 enabled the Huskies to come away with a 1-0 win.
After watching the two local rivals duke it out for 70 minutes Sunday, it was hard to believe that when these same two teams met a year ago the final score was 7-1 UConn and the Huskies outshot the Bulldogs 25-2. The stats were decidedly more even this time around, as UConn had a slight edge in shots (8-6) to go along with the one-goal win. This was just the third time all season that UConn (10-1, 3-0 Big East) has been held to fewer than two goals; the other two teams to do so are both currently in the top 20 (No. 8 BC and No. 17 Albany).
All afternoon long it was tough to find much of a difference between the two squads. Connecticut got a corner 30 seconds into the game but failed to score; by the end of the day Yale had limited the Huskies to five penalty corners and no goals off corners.
Yale (4-5, 2-1 Ivy League), which has lost five games by a total of six goals this year, got a corner 90 seconds in, but UConn keeper Sarah Mansfield went down to deny a blast from senior back Taylor Sankovich. The Bulldogs wound up 0-for-3 on corners after scoring four corner goals in Saturday's 7-2 win over Cornell.
"I think going into the game both teams were worried about each other's corners," said Yale head coach Pam Stuper. "But both teams wound up doing a good job, keeping each other scoreless on them."
The Bulldogs came frustratingly close to goals on a few occasions. At the 18-minute mark of the first with Yale operating in transition, a pass from sophomore forward Gabby Garcia in the circle slid just past the stick of a wide-open senior forward Mia Rosati as she dove. Midway through the second half, senior midfielder Dinah Landshut set up sophomore midfielder/back Georgia Holland at the top of the circle, but Holland's backhanded attempt as she fell to the turf went just wide.
With 11 minutes to play, Landshut's attempt to deflect a penalty corner shot by senior back Erin Carter went wide. Mansfield then made a save on Holland's shot off a corner with three minutes to play to deny Yale's last Grade-A chance.
Yale sophomore goalie Emily Cain was once again the tough-luck losing goalie, as her five saves helped keep the Bulldogs in the game. Bolles' tally was virtually impossible to stop. It was set up by forward Anne Jeute, who drove down the left side and then crossed the ball high into the circle, where Bolles was able to deflect it into the far corner.
Cain also got help from a Yale defense that was anchored by Carter, the team captain.
"Erin Carter had an outstanding game," Stuper said. "Also, our midfielders stayed very poised. They maintained their structure and communicated very well. That enabled us to stop UConn from generating too much on the attack."
With eight games remaining in the regular season, including a trip to the Midwest for games against two highly ranked opponents (No. 14 Michigan Saturday and No. 16 Northwestern Sunday), the Bulldogs can enter the home stretch knowing that they are capable of playing with any team in the country when they are at their best.
"I think, without question, this was the best hockey we have played in my 15 years here at Yale," Stuper said. "We made adjustments to our game plan, and the players followed them from start to finish. That allowed us the opportunity to be in the game and have a chance to win it right up until the end. UConn is consistently one of the best teams in the country, year-in and year-out. To be able to play with them is a tribute to the steps we have taken."
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity