Sporting Life

Fall sports highlights

Volleyball and field hockey win Ivy championships.

Alex Goldberger '08 is an Olympics researcher at NBC.

Sam Rubin ’95/Yale Sports Publicity

Sam Rubin ’95/Yale Sports Publicity

Captain Erin Carter ’12 led her team to an Ivy title. View full image


Minutes after their season had come to an end in a straight-sets NCAA tournament loss to top-ranked USC, Yale coach Erin Appleman, captain Taylor Cramm '12, and setter Kendall Polan '14 were all beaming, effusive in their praise for each other and their teammates. Despite the loss, the three knew that they had engineered yet another sparkling season for the volleyball program.

This fall, Yale won its third Ivy League championship in four years and made its third NCAA tournament appearance since 2004. The lone constant in that success has been Appleman, who came to Yale in 2003 after spending eight seasons as an assistant at juggernaut Penn State.

A former setter herself, Appleman has found in Polan a creative passer capable of serving as her on-court proxy. After debuting as the Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 2010, Polan was named Ivy Player of the Year this fall while outside hitter Mollie Rogers '15 inherited the top rookie honor. In light of that, it made perfect sense that Appleman would be smiling after the USC loss. "We have a very young squad," she said. "Looking forward, I'm very excited about where this team can go over the next couple of years."


Field hockey

The turnaround of the field hockey program during Pam Stuper's seven-year tenure as head coach has been a gradual and at times arduous process, with four losing seasons as the prologue to a recent run of success. But the fortunes of the 2011 team flipped on a single Sunday afternoon in early October. Despite losing 1–0 to No. 4 UConn that day, the result engendered a newfound confidence among the Yale squad, which had lost to the Huskies 7–1 last season. "After that game," says Stuper, "we realized that we were good, and that when we performed up to our ability, we could compete with the nation's best."

Yale dropped its next game to No. 13 Michigan, but then rattled off seven straight victories to end the season, capped by an emphatic 7–0 win over Brown on Senior Day to clinch a share of the Ivy League title—the team's first since 1980. Seven players earned All-Ivy honors, including star seniors Dinah Landshut '12 and Erin Carter '12. Carter, the team captain, was All-American and Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year.



When Melissa Gavin '15 committed to Yale, it was a huge coup for the women's soccer program. Gavin was a decorated high school player in Duxbury, Massachusetts, with an offer from 2010 NCAA champion Notre Dame, among other schools. A starter for the Bulldogs from the opening match, she scored her first goal in game five and would go on to finish fifth in the Ivy League in scoring, with six goals and seven assists. After the season, she was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year, the fourth in Yale's history.

But the season will be remembered for a heartbreaking match against Harvard. Yale could have won a share of the Ivy title with a win, but saw a 1–0 halftime lead turn into a 2–1 overtime loss. Gavin is eager to avenge it. "This year was all about getting settled in and adapting to the way that my team plays," Gavin says. "I'm really honored to get that award, but I know that I can do more to help our team in the future."


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