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Season Starts this Weekend

Kiwi Comizio and Carol Middough. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Kiwi Comizio and Carol Middough. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Bulldogs Open 2016 Saturday at Johnson Field vs. Sacred Heart

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale field hockey team opens the 2016 season this weekend with games against Sacred Heart (Saturday at 3:00 p.m.) and at Bryant (Monday at 2:00 p.m.). This is the team's 45th varsity season.

YALE OUTLOOK

Yale returns the top two scorers and an all-region goalie from last year's team, giving the Bulldogs a solid foundation. The Bulldogs will be relatively young again; after having only two seniors last year, they have four this season. Still, there is plenty of experience in this group -- seven of the returning players started 13 or more games last year. Pam Stuper, Yale's Caroline Ruth Thompson '02 Head Coach of Field Hockey, enters her 12th season at Yale's helm. The Bulldogs are captained by senior midfielder/back Steffi Katz, and six freshmen arrive to bolster the squad.

The Bulldogs' top returning scorer is junior forward/midfielder Carol Middough (Oceanport, N.J.), who started every game en route to earning second team All-Ivy League honors last year. She utilized her powerful shot to lead the team in goals and points (9-1-19), and had all three of the team's game-winning goals -- including the winner in the 2-1 overtime victory vs. Sacred Heart in the season opener and the winner in the 3-2 victory vs. Bryant.

Yale has one other returning All-Ivy honoree in senior goalkeeper Emilie Katz (Newton, Mass.), who earned second team All-Mideast Region and unanimous first team All-Ivy League honors after finishing second in the nation in saves per game (182 in 17 games, 10.71 per game) and fourth in the nation in save percentage (.791). She also received Yale's Player of the Year Award. Her goals-against average was 2.73, and she tied for seventh on Yale's single-season save list.

CLASS OF 2020

Yale welcomes six freshmen for the 2016 season. The group comes from six different high schools and four different U.S. states, along with one from Canada and one from England. It includes one back, two forward/midfielders, two midfielder/backs and one midfielder.

Many of the incoming freshmen have earned the attention of national programs -- including four who have been a part of USA Field Hockey's Futures program and one, Bridget Condie (St. Louis, Mo.), who played on the Under-17 National Team. Holly Jackson (Glastonbury, England) was part of England Hockey's U18 Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) program in 2015. Alex MacKay (North Vancouver, B.C.) was part of the Canadian National Team ID Camp this past November.

The incoming freshmen also bring plenty of leadership experience, as all have been captains at some point in their careers. Annina Zelkin (Lorton, Va.) was a two-sport captain in high school, as she also captained the track & field team. They have been active in their communities as well. Tara Litjens (Brookside, N.J.) set up and coached weekly field hockey clinics for middle schoolers while also volunteering at a soup kitchen and serving as secretary of the Service Club, a tutor and a Sunday School aide. The group also has multiple off-field interests and experiences -- for example, Camille Scheyer (Glencoe, Ill.) plays the violin and interned at the Chicago UNICEF office.

FAMILY TIES

The Bulldogs have two sets of sisters on the roster – both from Massachusetts. Senior goalkeeper Emilie Katz (Newton, Mass.) and senior midfielder/back Steffi Katz (Newton, Mass.) feature prominently on the team – Emilie is the starting goalie and Steffi is the team captain. The junior sisters Katie Smith (Duxbury, Mass.) and Lily Smith (Duxbury, Mass.) are identical twins who play the same positions (midfielder/forward) and also started playing lacrosse for Yale last spring. Both Smiths started every game last season, and Katie was second on the team in assists with four.

ALUMS STILL PLAYING

Three Yale field hockey alums recently had the opportunity to play for the United States in the FIH Masters World Cup, which includes men's and women's teams of players age 40 and older representing their home countries. Anne Keating '77 and Georganne Nattress '85 earned bronze as part of the U.S. Over 45 team, while Anne Lehman Dillman '93 was part of a fifth-place finish for the U.S. Over 40 team. This was the second time that all three played in the Masters World Cup, as they had also played in 2014 in the Netherlands. The 2016 tournament took place in Canberra, Australia, from Mar. 29 through Apr. 6.

SCHEDULE

The 17-game slate starts Sept. 3 against Sacred Heart.  In addition to the seven Ivy League games -- starting Sept. 23 at Harvard -- the Bulldogs have 10 non-league games. Alumnae Day is Oct. 1 vs. Princeton, and Senior Day at Johnson Field is Oct. 30 vs. Quinnipiac. This season the Bulldogs will face four teams who played in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, including a visit to national semifinalists UConn Oct. 16.

SCOUTING SACRED HEART

Sacred Heart (0-3, 0-2 MAAC) dropped a pair of 6-1 decisions to start the season, then lost 8-1 in their third game. Midfielder Rebecca Hauser scored in the season-opening loss to Providence, back Allie Brouhard scored in a loss at Maine this past Sunday, and midfielder Nichole Tolli scored against Lock Haven. Goalie Emily Degennaro has made 11 saves.

The Pioneers are quite familiar with Johnson Field, as they are using it as their home field this season. They played Lock Haven there Friday.

SCOUTING BRYANT

Bryant (0-2, 0-0 MAAC), which plays at Providence Sunday, has been shut out in its first two games. The Bulldogs lost to Colgate 1-0 in overtime in the season opener, then fell to No. 9 Albany 5-0 this past Sunday.  

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