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Wells’ Game-Winner with 25 Seconds Left Lifts Yale Past Dartmouth 4-3

Nicole Wells. (photo by Sam Rubin ?95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Nicole Wells. (photo by Sam Rubin ?95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Schuckert Adds a Goal and Two Assists

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -  All's well that Wells ends. Shakespeare himself could not have scripted a more dramatic ending to Saturday's game for the Yale field hockey team, as sophomore midfielder Nicole Wells' highlight-reel goal with 25 seconds remaining gave the Bulldogs a 4-3 win over Dartmouth and capped a memorable battle between these two Ivy League rivals.

The game-winning goal was set up by senior midfielder Emily Schuckert, who tried the field hockey equivalent of a Hail Mary pass and made it work -- with help from Wells. As the final seconds started ticking off the clock, Schuckert carried the ball up the right side of the field and sent a pass from just past midfield towards the circle. Wells, just inside the circle and closely defended, managed to get her stick on the ball to deflect it high in the air.

After that, it was just a matter of waiting as the ball arced high above the field. When it finally came down, it found the sweet spot just above the reach of Dartmouth goalkeeper Ellen Meyer and just below the cross bar.

"It was the type of goal that, even after you saw it go in, you couldn't believe it went in," said Pam Stuper, Yale's Caroline Ruth Thompson '02 Head Coach of Field Hockey. "It was beautiful. That ending was all about persistence, willing ourselves to win and doing it together."

The win was all the more remarkable considering that -- with injuries mounting over the course of the season -- Yale (5-7, 2-2 Ivy League) fielded a patchwork lineup on Saturday. The Bulldogs took an early lead at 6:38 on a broken penalty corner, as Schuckert picked up a loose ball and sent it across the goal mouth, where senior forward/midfielder Erica Borgo put it in.

Then, a contribution from a new source gave Yale a 2-0 lead. Sophomore Danee Fitzgerald, one of the players the Bulldogs just shuffled around (from her usual role as a back) to compensate for their injury losses on attack, scored her first goal of the season at 29:47. Wells had the assist.

"We're a little banged up, so we put Danee in a new role," said Stuper. "She did a great job. I couldn't be more proud of her ability to impact the game."

Another Bulldog who found a new way to contribute on Saturday was freshman goalkeeper Emilie Katz -- who suited up with a different uniform number in order to play forward.

Still, it took 10 saves in the half by junior goalkeeper Heather Schlesier -- and a defensive save by senior midfielder/back Georgia Holland -- to keep Dartmouth (4-8, 1-3 Ivy League) off the scoreboard in the first. The Big Green answered quickly in the second, scoring three times in the first 7:26 (two by forward Ali Savage, one by forward Sam Anderson). A defensive save by junior back Megan Kirkham in the midst of that span kept the damage from being worse.

The Bulldogs suddenly found themselves trailing 3-2, but they did not let that situation last long. Schuckert tied the game with a goal at 48:28. By the end of the day, her season totals for goals, assists and points all represented career highs (4-8-16).

There were scoring opportunities for both teams in the waning moments, including a missed penalty stroke by the Bulldogs with four minutes to play. Senior Emily Cain came on to handle the final 14:22 in goal and made one save, denying Savage. That helped set the stage for Wells' heroics.

"These Dartmouth-Yale games are always closely contested," said Stuper (five of the last 11 meetings have been decided by one goal). "They are a very strong team. We really had to battle to come up with a win. The best part of that is that we had to play the way Yale Field Hockey has played through the years -- we had to fight, persevere, and stay together until the end."

Yale hosts Maine on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity