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Princeton, No. 9 Stanford at Johnson Field this Weekend

Megan Kirkham. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity) Buy Now
Megan Kirkham. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Bulldogs Seek First Ivy League Win

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Two of the toughest opponents on the Yale field hockey team's schedule come to Johnson Field this weekend, as the Bulldogs take on Princeton and No. 9 Stanford. Those two teams have combined for 29 NCAA Tournament appearances, including nine in the past five years.

Over that same five-year span Princeton was the only Ivy League team with a better league record than Yale, which was 24-11 in league games (the Tigers were 34-1). The Bulldogs and Tigers tied for the Ivy League championship in 2011, when the current Yale seniors -- forward Jessie Accurso (Jamison, Pa.), back Megan Kirkham (Courtice, Ont.), forward Grace McInerney (Blue Bell, Pa.) and goalie Heather Schlesier (San Diego, Calif.) -- were freshmen.

Yale (1-5, 0-1 Ivy League) dropped its Ivy League opener 4-1 at Harvard last Saturday, but followed that up by nearly upsetting BU Sunday. The Bulldogs held a 2-1 lead until the Terriers tied the game with 61 seconds left in regulation. BU then won 3-2 in overtime.

 The BU game saw freshman midfielder Carol Middough (Oceanport, N.J.) score her first collegiate goal, becoming the sixth different Bulldog to score this season. Accurso and sophomore midfielder Kelsey Nolan (Lancaster, Pa.) lead the team with two goals each. Nolan has a team-best 20 shots and 11 shots on goal.

Schlesier has a .746 save percentage and a 2.43 goals-against average. If she keeps up her current pace, she will be the first Yale starting goalie to post back-to-back seasons with a .740 or better save percentage since Elizabeth Friedlander '07 did so in 2005 (.756) and 2006 (.741). Yale's defense has also benefitted from the play of Kirkham, who is one of only four players in the Ivy League with a pair of defensive saves.

Princeton (2-4, 1-0 Ivy League) won its 22nd Ivy League championship and made its 17th NCAA Tournament appearance last year. The Tigers lost six players to graduation, including Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year Michelle Cesan and Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year Julia Reinprecht. Those two were All-Americans, as was midfielder Teresa Benvenuti, who returns. Back Annabeth Donovan was Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Year last season. Additionally, striker Allison Evans is coming off a season in which she finished fifth in the league in points (28) and earned second team All-Ivy honors.

Striker Maddie Copeland leads Princeton in scoring (3-0-6), while striker Ryan McCarthy (2-1-5) leads the team in shots (19) and shots on goal (10). Goalie Anya Gersoff has a .725 save percentage and a 2.32 goals-against average.

Stanford (8-1, 1-0 NorPac) plays at No. 5 UConn on Friday night. The Cardinal's lone loss in its first nine games was a 1-0 defeat at the hands of No. 7 Albany Sept. 14. Stanford has allowed no more than one goal in each game so far, and goalkeeper Dulcie Davies leads the nation in save percentage (.900) and goals-against average (0.44). Stanford has outshot its opponents 100-51. She has five shutouts.

Midfielder Alex McCawley leads the Cardinal in scoring (7-2-16), including three game-winning goals. She needs just one more goal this season to match her career high.

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