Aug. 30, 2007
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Three one-goal losses were all that separated the Yale field hockey team from the top of the Ivy League last season. The Bulldogs know they have the talent to turn those scores in their favor and make some history this season -- and the celebration of the 35th anniversary of Yale field hockey serves as the perfect backdrop for that.
"This team has the athleticism, ability and mentality to have a very successful season," said Pam Stuper, who enters her third season as head coach after eight seasons as an assistant.
Here is a position-by-position look at the Bulldogs:
Strong senior leadership should make forward one of the Bulldogs' strengths this season. Captain Harriet Thayer is the team's top returning scorer after posting career highs in goals (5) and assists (7) last year. A playmaker whose speed presents all sorts of problems for opposing defenses, Thayer was a second-team NFHCA All-Region and unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection last year. She also has been a part of USA Field Hockey's HPTC program.
Cat Lindroth provides the perfect complement to Thayer as a physical, power-forward type who also has tremendous leadership skills and intensity. Lindroth started 16 of 17 games last year, scoring three goals and adding two assists. Her 49 career games played place her second only to Thayer in that category.
Two juniors will play important roles at forward for the Bulldogs. Alyssa Jethani is a savvy player who appeared in all 17 games last season, scoring her first career goal in the season-ending 3-1 win at Brown. Jethani's ability to set up the press will be an asset, and her communication skills make her an integral part of the team's chemistry. Jayna Whitcher will play forward this season after a year at back. Her stick skills and shot selection give her the potential to contribute significantly to the offense.
Sophomore Ashley McCauley's scoring touch in front of the net adds greatly to the Bulldog attack. After appearing in 14 games last year and earning one Ivy League Rookie of the Week award, McCauley may see an even bigger workload this season. Classmate Lesley Kiger enjoyed a successful spring that will put her in the mix at forward as well as in the midfield and backfield.
The freshman class includes some forwards capable of immediate contributions. Johna Paolino (East Greenwich, R.I.) has an uncanny understanding of the game along with great vision and awareness. Jennifer Parker (Stamford, Conn.) is a physical, athletic presence up front who just needs to gain experience.
With no pure midfielders in the senior class, the Bulldogs will rely on juniors for veteran leadership at this position. Fortunately the Class of 2009 includes a pair of players with all the necessary attributes to help the team excel. Ali Rotondo, who may also see time at back, has been a part of USA Field Hockey's HPTC program. She provides the Bulldogs with a steady, reliable source of defense in the midfield. Classmate Laura Pierce, who earned 10 starts last season, has the work ethic necessary to provide an even greater contribution this year.
Sophomore Katie Cantore may be one of the most underrated players in the league. Cantore was a pleasant surprise last year, emerging as a starter after just two games. Her ability to make things happen is not always reflected in the stats, but she will be a factor in generating Yale's attack by doing all the little things needed to set up her teammates for goals, as well as playing great defense.
Freshman Marissa Waldemore (New Vernon, N.J.) has athletic bloodlines (her father Stanley played for the NFL's New York Jets) that shine through in her stick skills and vision. That, combined with her blue-collar work ethic, should enable her to contribute either in the midfield or backfield.
The Bulldogs are counting on a pair of seniors to anchor the backfield. Beth Raveche is coming off a breakout season in which she appeared in 14 games and started a career-high 13. In addition to her solid defensive play, Raveche's passing ability -- getting the ball out of the backfield and distributing it to her teammates -- is a huge asset. Lorrie Kiger, Lesley's sister, had a tremendous spring. She could emerge with a starting role this fall after appearing in 11 games last year.
Two sophomores give the Bulldogs depth in the backfield. Julia Weiser is a hard-working team player who stepped in when needed at several key times last season, appearing in 11 games and starting four. Stephanie Colantonio brings athleticism and solid tackling skills. Her off-the-field contributions were recognized last year with the team's Senior Award, awarded by the senior class to a freshman who reflects positive contribution to the team's philosophy and whose individual character encourages the future direction and excellence of Yale Field Hockey.
Freshman Vicki Gordon (Haverford, Pa.) is an outstanding athlete who was also on the crew team in high school. Her tackling skills give her the ability to make an immediate impact defensively. Fellow newcomer Erica Cullum (Morristown, N.J.) can distribute the ball and make tackles, making her an important part of Yale's depth at this position.
After a season spent learning behind Elizabeth Friedlander '07, sophomore Charlotte Goins has the athleticism and skills necessary to be an impact goalie for the Bulldogs. She stopped all 11 shots she faced in 66:52 of action last year and will see much more time this season. Freshman Katie Bolling (Ann Arbor, Mich.) comes from a strong field hockey program and will be a solid addition to the roster.
Knowing how close they came to an Ivy League title last year, the Bulldogs once again scheduled a challenging slate of non-league opponents designed to prepare them for Ivy play.
"I believe exceptional student-athletes come to Yale to be challenged both in the classroom and on the field," said Stuper. "The 2007 schedule was designed with this in mind. We will use our non-conference schedule, including Providence, UConn, Michigan State, Hofstra, Syracuse and Lock Haven, as well as our local rivals, Fairfield, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart, and Holy Cross, to prepare ourselves for a run at the Ivy League title. "
The league portion of the schedule begins with a trip to defending champion Princeton Sept. 8. Other Ivy road trips include Penn Oct. 19 and Columbia Oct. 26. Yale's home league games include Cornell Sept. 21, Dartmouth Oct. 6, Harvard Oct. 13 and Brown Nov. 3.
The Harvard game is part of a weekend in which the team celebrates the 35th anniversary of field hockey at Yale with an alumnae game, reception, dinner and other events. The 2007 edition of the Bulldogs hopes to add some memories to the field hockey program's history.
"We will be a team of surprises," Stuper said. "I look forward to what the season will bring!"
report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity