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Fast Start Propels Yale Past Hofstra, 4-2

Steffi Katz and Marissa Medici. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Steffi Katz and Marissa Medici. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – To earn its first victory over Hofstra in five years, the Yale field hockey team needed to execute well in virtually all phases of the game Sunday afternoon at Johnson Field. The Bulldogs did just that, getting goals from four different players (three in the first 15 minutes of the game), keeping shots even (17-17) and providing enough defensive support for senior goalie Emilie Katz to stymie a Pride offense that had scored five or more goals in a game twice already this season. The end result was a 4-2 Yale win, snapping a streak of four straight Hofstra victories in the series.

For Yale, the win came on the heels of a disappointing 3-2 loss to Lafayette Saturday -- and it was clear that the Bulldogs had learned from that defeat.

"Today was a great team effort," said Pam Stuper, Yale's Caroline Ruth Thompson '02 Head Coach of Field Hockey. "We had a fantastic first half where we capitalized on our opportunities, and gave ourselves a good lead. After yesterday's game we took a look at the goals that Lafayette scored, and the team made a commitment to playing proper defense. That was a huge change today."

The Bulldogs set the tone early, as junior midfielder/forward Lily Smith knocked in a rebound for a 1-0 lead at 4:19. Just five minutes later Hofstra tied the game, but Yale reeled off three more goals to take a commanding 4-1 lead into the half. On the first goal, a long pass from junior back Kiwi Comizio caught Hofstra goalkeeper Carys Swan by surprise, and sophomore forward Brooke Reese was in position to poke in the loose ball for her fourth career goal -- on five career shots. This wound up being her first game-winning goal.

At 14:19 the Bulldogs extended the lead, as another long pass -- this one from junior forward/midfielder Katie Smith -- found senior forward Danee Fitzgerald for a 1-on-1 with Swan. After Swan collided with her, Fitzgerald was awarded a penalty stroke and fired in her fourth career goal.

"She's done very well at practice with her strokes," said Stuper of Fitzgerald. "We knew, given the opportunity, she was someone we could put on the line."

Yale's fourth goal of the half was set up by the corner unit. After the initial shot by freshman forward Bridget Condie was stopped by a Hofstra player's stick, junior forward/midfielder Carol Middough quickly sent the loose ball in for her third goal of the week. Yale's corner unit has now generated at least one goal in every game.

"We have some experience back there this year, and those players are finding a way," said Stuper.

After Katz knocked away a high shot by Hofstra's Claudia Marin Samper in the final six minutes, Yale kept a 4-1 lead heading into intermission.

The second half saw Hofstra outshoot Yale 10-4 while trying in vain to make a comeback. Katz made it clear that this was not the Pride's day with a pair of great saves midway through the period -- one in which she came sliding out to deny a shot by forward Claudia Marin Samper, and another where she made a one-handed stick save. She would finish the day with five saves.

Hofstra (2-4, 0-0 CAA) crept closer on a goal by forward Stella Schoen with 4:26 left, but Yale's defense came up with another big play shortly after that. Freshman midfielder/back Holly Jackson knocked away a shot that had gotten past Katz, earning a defensive save with less than three minutes to play that helped seal the victory. Condie and Middough effectively played keep away with the ball deep in Hofstra territory to run out the final seconds.

Yale (3-1, 0-0 Ivy League) heads to No. 12 Albany next Saturday.

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