Goals for Accurso, Borgo and Villa Lead Yale Past SHU 3-1

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Noelle Villa celebrates a goal. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

First Career Goal for Villa

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale field hockey team is now playing without five of the six players that helped the Bulldogs score a school-record 69 goals a year ago, making it clear that some new offensive weapons must emerge. That was exactly what happened Sunday afternoon at Johnson Field, as two players scored their first goals of the season: sophomore forward Jessie Accurso and freshman midfielder/back Noelle Villa, whose goal was the first of her career. The Bulldogs' No. 2 scorer from a year ago, junior midfielder Erica Borgo, added a goal and an assist as Yale beat Sacred Heart 3-1.

"This was definitely a game where some of our younger and more inexperienced players stepped up," said Yale head coach Pam Stuper.

With four of the top scorers from a year ago having graduated, and a fifth (junior midfielder/back Georgia Holland) injured since the third game of this season, the Bulldogs had been shut out four times in their first six games. But on Sunday they got on the scoreboard 15 minutes in, with senior forward Maddy Sharp feeding Accurso in front of the net. Accurso got just enough of the ball with her backhanded shot to slip it past Pioneers goalie Mary Altepeter.

 "Jessie's a great team player," Stuper said. "She's super intense, and has really worked hard to be a dangerous forward for us. It was nice to see that hard work result in a goal."

Yale (3-4, 1-1 Ivy League) outshot Sacred Heart (5-3) 15-5 in the first half, but Altepeter's nine saves in the half kept her team in the game. In one particularly impressive sequence, she turned aside a pair of shots by Accurso and one by Sharp in a span of less than 30 seconds.

But Yale's seventh penalty corner of the half gave the Bulldogs another chance to solve Altepeter, and Villa drilled in her first career goal after Borgo inserted and junior forward/midfielder Emily Schuckert made the stick stop.

"Noelle has a very good corner hit," Stuper said. "We've wanted to give her some more opportunities there. We drew a lot of corners today, and that gave us a chance to use a few more of our tools."

Borgo has established herself as one of Yale's primary offensive table setters for three seasons now -- including a school-record 17 assists last year -- but when she has to take scoring matters into her own hands she can do that as well. She showed that by freeing herself up for a hard shot from distance that she tucked low inside the far post with 20 minutes to play, extending Yale's lead to 3-0.

After that the only drama came as the Bulldogs tried to finish off the shutout. During one six-minute stretch late in the game the Pioneers got all four of the penalty corners that were called, and the fourth one led to forward Liz Bergman breaking up the shutout bid with a goal with 2:24 to play. Yale junior goalie Emily Cain finished with four saves.

Despite the late goal, the Bulldogs nonetheless came away from Sunday's game knowing that they had put Saturday's Ivy League loss to No. 3 Princeton -- Yale's first league loss in a year -- behind them.

"With back-to-back games like this, you have to turn the page quickly, whether you win big, lose big or somewhere in between," Stuper said. "This program has been very good at doing that, moving from game to game."

Yale returns to Ivy League play with a game next Saturday at Cornell.

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 http://www.yalebulldogs.com/getagrip

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