September 16, 2012

No. 5 UConn Tops Yale 3-0 to Stay Unbeaten

Cain Makes 14 Saves

STORRS, Conn. – For the Yale Bulldogs, the annual game with state rival UConn always offers a chance to see how they stack up in the national field hockey scene. The Huskies, ranked No. 5 in the country right now, have made 23 NCAA Tournament appearances -- including each of the last 10 years. With a game vs. No. 2 Princeton looming next weekend, it was particularly important for the Bulldogs to get some experience playing a top-ranked team before taking on the Tigers in a game with Ivy League title implications. While Yale wound up falling to the Huskies 3-0, there were enough signs of progress to provide some optimism for the remainder of the season.

Yale (2-3, 1-0 Ivy League) was coming off an emotional 2-1 overtime Ivy League win against Harvard Saturday, but the Bulldogs showed no signs of a letdown in the early going Sunday. In fact, they held the powerful Huskies offense -- which was averaging nearly four goals a game entering the day -- without a shot until midway through the first, when junior goalie Emily Cain made a kick save on McKenzie Townsend and followed it up with a terrific diving save on Erin Koonz just seconds later. But shortly after that the Huskies got their first penalty corner of the day, and they turned that into a goal as Marie Elena Bolles deflected in a shot by Chloe Hunnable.

UConn (7-0) had two more corners in the half but came up empty, and freshman forward/midfielder Nicole Wells broke up a pair of passes in the final 30 seconds of the half to help the Bulldogs go into the break within striking distance.

Yale kept UConn's shot total to a relatively manageable 11 in the first half, with senior Mary Beth Barham once again leading the defense in her fourth game at back after converting from the midfield. Two other Bulldogs, junior midfielder Erica Borgo and junior forward/midfielder Emily Schuckert, have also been adjusting to new roles as the team continues to deal with last weekend's injury to junior midfielder/back Georgia Holland.

"Both Borgo and 'Schucks' are taking on new roles and doing a nice job, being leaders and helping the less experienced players," said Yale head coach Pam Stuper. "Mary Beth has become the anchor of our defense, and she really has broken up some dangerous plays by our opponents. And Emily Cain made some great saves today."

The four freshmen on Yale's roster are also coming along, and Saturday was their first chance to compete against a top-five opponent. Wells and back Molly Wolf have both emerged as starters, with forward Danee Fitzgerald and midfielder/back Noelle Villa also seeing regular action.

"Nicole and Molly are starting to understand their roles better, and now they see how they can contribute," Stuper said.

But UConn had the advantage of playing with a two-time All-American in goal (Sarah Mansfield), and Bolles and Hunnable were both All-Mideast Region selections a year ago. The talent-laden Huskies eventually pulled away thanks to 17 shots in the second half, when Bolles set up a tally by Koonz and Alicia Angelini scored on a penalty stroke. Cain made one last save on Bolles with just over three minutes to play to finish the day with 14 saves, but the Huskies came away with the 3-0 win.

"We put this game in the schedule to help prepare for Princeton," Stuper said. "UConn is always a great team. In many ways today we played the best hockey that we have all season. We know that we have to work on making ourselves more dangerous in our attacking 40. That was the difference today."

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

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