NEW HAVEN, Conn. – With an All-Region honoree returning as the backbone in goal, defense is expected to be a strong suit for the Yale field hockey team this season. In the season opener Saturday against Sacred Heart at Johnson Field, though, the Bulldogs didn't even need a single save from senior Emilie Katz. They outshot the Pioneers 17-2 -- with both of SHU's shots going wide -- en route to a 2-0 shutout win. Freshman forward/midfielder Camille Scheyer scored the season's first goal, and sophomore forward Brooke Reese added an insurance goal for the Bulldogs.
"It's always nice to win your first game, and to get a shutout as well was fantastic," said Pam Stuper, Yale's Caroline Ruth Thompson '02 Head Coach of Field Hockey. "That was something we didn't do last year."
The first half was a dominant one for Yale (1-0, 0-0 Ivy League), as the Bulldogs held a 10-0 shot advantage. They hit paydirt on their third penalty corner of the half, as senior midfielder/back Steffi Katz inserted to junior back Kiwi Comizio, who set up Scheyer for a goal at 13:58.
The Bulldogs extended their lead at 20:23. After an initial entry pass from the left side was turned away, Reese was in position at the near post and knocked in the loose ball for her third career goal -- on her fourth career shot.
"Brooke has a great nose around the goal, and that was a typical goal for her," said Stuper. "And for Camille to get her first goal on her first shot, that drag flick, was special."
Sacred Heart (0-4, 0-0 MAAC) got its first penalty corner of the game nearly 60 minutes in, but a shot by midfielder Nichole Tolli hit Comizio and ended the threat. The Bulldogs nearly extended their lead a minute later, but freshman forward/midfielder Bridget Condie hit the post with a shot. The Pioneers thus remained within striking distance, but after coming up empty on a pair of corners (both shots were blocked) as the clocked ticked down to less than five minutes to play, any thoughts of an SHU comeback evaporated.
This wound up being Katz' first career shutout, and the fact that she did not have to make a save adds a touch of irony. She excelled last season as one of the busiest goalies in the nation, finishing second in the country with 10.71 saves per game.
While Katz provides a veteran presence, the Bulldogs have also benefitted from an injection of new talent this year. Condie and Scheyer were joined in the starting lineup by midfielder/back Holly Jackson to give Yale three freshmen starters. The other new Bulldogs -- back/midfielder Tara Litjens, back Alex MacKay and forward Annina Zelkin -- all saw playing time as well.
"I'm really proud of the freshmen," said Stuper. "Every single one of them contributed. It's always a really anxious moment, to put on that jersey for the first time. The upperclassmen brought good leadership and experience."
Yale resumes play Monday at Bryant (2:00 p.m.), which plays its home games at Brown's Goldberger Family Field in Providence, R.I.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity