Nov. 2, 2008
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Of all the positive things that can be said about the members of the Yale Field Hockey Class of 2009, perhaps the most important is this: they are leaving on a high note. Senior Day at Johnson Field Sunday afternoon was punctuated by a 6-0 win over Quinnipiac, and all four seniors -- forward Alyssa Jethani, forward Laura Pierce, midfielder Ali Rotondo and forward Jayna Whitcher -- had a hand in the victory. It was Yale's fifth win in the last six games, and the Bulldogs have outscored their opponents 21-8 in that stretch.
The first goal of the game came 82 seconds in, as junior midfielder Katie Cantore drew a penalty corner and the Bulldogs took advantage of it. Sophomore back Marissa Waldemore, the inserter, got in front of the net after the insertion and was able to deflect in the shot by junior back Julia Weiser.
After Waldemore's tally, three of the next four goals featured seniors playing prominent roles. Jethani set up freshman forward/midfielder Dinah Landshut for a goal at 5:27, the third assist of the season for the senior and the sixth goal of the year for the freshman. Landshut's 17 points for the year place her fourth in freshman year scoring in the Yale record book.
The Bulldogs' lead remained 2-0 for nearly 15 minutes, when a Quinnipiac player blocked a shot with her body and Yale was awarded a penalty stroke. Head coach Pam Stuper had her choice of players to take the stroke and tabbed junior forward Ashley McCauley.
McCauley sent a shot toward the lower left corner of the goal, and Quinnipiac goalie Jenna Grossman was able to dive and get a piece of it -- but not enough. The ball trickled in, extending the Yale lead to 3-0.
McCauley made another addition to her growing highlight reel eight minutes later. Rotondo fed her a nice pass right in front of the goal, but McCauley was knocked to the turf and seemingly taken out of the play. Instead, she got her stick on the ball and sent it past Grossman to make it 4-0 at 28:43.
"We're constantly telling kids to dive, to reach for the ball," Stuper said. "It was nice to see it finally lead to a goal. That's what Ashley's capable of."
Despite the decided Yale edge on the scoreboard at halftime, Quinnipiac (5-12) remained a threat, and would end up with more shots (18-13) and corners (8-7) for the game. But the tone for the second half was set 24 seconds in, when McCauley drew the attention of the defense on the right side of the circle before crossing the ball to Jethani for a wide-open goal that provided a fitting highlight on Senior Day. The assist moved McCauley into sole possession of fifth on Yale's all-time scoring list (67 points).
The Bulldogs added another goal on a penalty corner at 63:28, as Waldemore sent the ball out to Cantore and freshman back Erin Carter rocketed a shot in to make it 6-0. Always a reliable defender, Carter came out of the weekend with some offensive numbers as well -- the first four points of her career.
That left the bid for Yale's second shutout in three games as the last bit of drama. Sophomore Katie Bolling, who started in goal, made eight saves before giving way to junior Charlotte Goins with 9:24 to play. Goins watched a long Quinnipiac pass from the midfield sail wide of the goal in the waning seconds, giving the Bulldogs the chance to take possession and ice the victory. All four seniors were out on the field at the end.
The recent run of success leaves Yale (7-9, 2-4 Ivy League) in a position to finish with eight wins, which would be the most since the team notched 12 in 2003. It would also mark the second straight season in which the Bulldogs increased their win total from the previous year.
"Late in September and at the beginning of October, we started to realize what we're capable of," Stuper said. "Our team has grown a lot from playing some of the top teams in the country. During this run our players have been in good support positions both on attack and on defense. It makes all the difference when you attack with numbers and defend with numbers."
Stuper, who was promoted from assistant coach to head coach in 2005, credited the seniors with helping the team through a four-year transition.
"They were freshmen when I took over," Stuper said. "They have helped create what Yale Field Hockey is today -- the style of play and the mentality. We owe them a lot. It was nice to see them all play today, and play well."
Yale finishes the 2008 season at Brown next Saturday at Noon.
report by Sam Rubin '95 (email@example.com), Yale Sports Publicity