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Season, “Get a Grip” Campaign Start this Weekend

Ona McConnell. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Ona McConnell. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Starting the celebration of the 40th anniversary of varsity field hockey at Yale, the Bulldogs get the 2012 campaign underway this weekend with a visit to Fairfield Friday (4:30 p.m.) for the first official game of the 2012-13 Yale Athletics season. The weekend also includes the home opener Sunday (1:00 p.m.) vs. Quinnipiac, a game made all the more special by the fact that it is the launch of the team's annual "Get a Grip" campaign for the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation. The Bulldogs' efforts over the past three years have been inspired by senior goalie Ona McConnell (London, England), who was diagnosed with that disease midway through her freshman season but has continued to play.

Yale is coming off a memorable 2011 season that saw the Bulldogs earn a share of the Ivy League title, the Bulldogs' first since 1980. The team went 11-6 overall, 6-1 in league play, and set the school record with 69 goals. The Bulldogs have lost six players from that team to graduation, including four of the top six scorers. But they return 11 letterwinners, including six players who started seven or more games and four who earned All-Ivy League recognition.

The Bulldogs are captained by senior forward Maddy Sharp (San Diego, Calif.). The team's top returning scorer is junior forward Erica Borgo (Randolph, N.J.), who set the school single-season record for assists last year (5-17-27). Classmate Georgia Holland (Stony Brook, N.Y.), a midfielder/back, also cracked the 20-point plateau (9-4-22). Those two were first team All-Ivy League picks last year, while senior midfielder Mary Beth Barham (Fairfax, Va.) (2-2-6) and junior goalkeeper Emily Cain (Laytonsville, Md.) (.752 save percentage, 1.84 goals-against average) were second team selections.

Fairfield opened its season Aug. 24 with a 3-1 loss at Hofstra. The Stags, who have been picked to finish fifth in the America East conference, are coming off a 9-8 season. Last year's game between these two teams was a 6-0 Yale win, as Cain and sophomore goalkeeper Heather Schlesier combined for the shutout. Erin Carter '12 had four goals, while Dinah Landshut '12 had three assists. Borgo had a pair of assists, and Holland and Taylor Sankovich '12 scored the other two goals.

Quinnipiac, which edged Yale 3-2 on penalty strokes last year, opened its season with a 1-0 win at Holy Cross Aug. 24. The Bobcats were picked to finish fourth in the Northeast Conference preseason coaches' poll, receiving one first-place vote. Quinnipiac, which lost five starters to graduation, has just four seniors on its 24-woman roster.  

Every goal Yale scores this season brings the world closer to a cure for myotonic dystrophy. Senior goalkeeper Ona McConnell (London, England) has been diagnosed with the disease, the most common form of muscular dystrophy. The Bulldogs are taking pledges for a season-long "Goal-a-thon" as part of their "Get a Grip" campaign to raise awareness and funds for the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation. For more information, visit


Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity