Columbia field hockey defeated Yale 5-4 on a last-second corner on Saturday to clinch a winning 2017 campaign.
“It was so incredibly fun to watch these guys come back and then win this game against a very, very tough Yale side,” head coach Caroline Nelson-Nichols said. “That’s one of the coolest things as a coach, to see a 21-strong group putting every ounce of their heart on the field.”
The Lions (9-7, 4-2) got on the board first, with senior forward Lauren Crane knocking a hard shot into the goal off a pass from junior forward Danielle Buttinger 20 minutes into the game. But the Bulldogs responded within the minute, and the score was tied at 1-1 going into halftime.
Yale took advantage of a slow start from Columbia and scored one minute into the second half. Before doubling its advantage at the 52:44 mark. The Light Blue did not back down, however, and a time out from Nelson-Nichols seemed to spark the team for the remainder of the game.
“The adjustment was we just needed to get pressure on the ball,” Nelson-Nichols said. “We needed to send one, and everybody had to go together, and they found that defensive heart as a big group together.”
Four minutes after the Yale goal, Columbia drew a penalty stroke and senior midfielder Maeve Doherty flew the ball into the netting.
Just one minute after, junior midfielder Katie Koester sent a ball into the circle that found junior back Katherine Cavanaugh, who beat her defender and chipped it into the back of the net to tie the game at three apiece.
Both teams fought to earn an advantage, exchanging possession in their attacking ends for equal amounts of time. But it was the Lions who drew repeated corners and capitalized with Buttinger tipping a pass high into the upper right corner with six minutes remaining.
The Bulldogs, however, would not let the Lions walk away so easily, and with less than a minute remaining in regulation, a successful corner tied the game and sent it into overtime. As the clock wound down in the extra period, and it looked like there would be another overtime period, the Lions took control of the ball and drew a corner in the final seconds of play.
“Everybody really stepped up in their defensive abilities, offense pressed a high press at that point, and I think it really came down to us giving 1,000% heart,” Buttinger said.
After drawing a second corner, Doherty sent a pass over to Buttinger, who drove a hard shot toward the goal that bounced off of senior midfielder Whitney Hartstone right behind the back of the netminder to give the Lions the win.
“To come back from behind, be up 4-3, then have it tied going into overtime when you were winning with no time left, I think we all knew that we weren’t walking out of here without a win,” Buttinger said. “We really willed [the ball] over the line.”
The Lions return to action for the final game of the season next weekend against Harvard.