Women’s soccer aces tough tests in N.Y.

The Yale women’s soccer team faced a test of will this weekend when the Bulldogs played two games in two days in upstate New York. The Eli squad passed with perfection, and in the process gave Yale head coach Rudy Meredith his 100th victory at the helm of the women’s team.

The Bulldogs (9-4-0, 2-2-0 Ivy) traveled first to Ithaca, N.Y. Saturday for Ivy action against Cornell (4-6-2, 1-3-0). After a dominant 2-0 defeat of the Big Red, the Elis moved southwest to Hamilton, N.Y. to challenge Colgate (9-5-1) Sunday. Yale scored victory again, this time by a 2-1 tally, and gave Meredith win number 100.

Meredith’s overall record now stands at 100-64-11, making him the winningest coach in school history in terms of winning percentage.

“I guess it’s something that sneaks up on you,” Meredith said. “You take it one year at a time, try to have a successful season each year. I didn’t really think about it — I’m 35 years old, so I thought I was young. But then you realize, ‘I’ve been here for 10 years — I’m getting old.’”

In Saturday’s game, the Bulldogs scored early and often with two first-half goals from midfielder Laurel Karnes ’06. In the 29th minute of play, Karnes headed in a cross from forward Mimi Macauley ’07 near the left post past Cornell goalkeeper Katie Thomas.

Karnes struck again just seven minutes later when she took a pass from defender Trista Choksi ’07 and broke away from the Cornell defenders in front of the Big Red goal. Karnes drove the ball to the opposite post past a diving Thomas.

“We started off the first half really strong– they didn’t have too many chances,” defender Christina Huang ’07 said. “By scoring early, it made the game a lot easier.”

Eli captain and goalie Sarah Walker ’05 split time with goalie Chloe Beizer ’07 for two saves and the shutout. It was Yale’s third straight shutout victory and seventh in nine victories this season.

Sunday the Bulldogs would again use early goals to put away their opponent in what the players called a very physical battle. Colgate came into Sunday’s action on a six-game winning streak, and had not lost in Hamilton in eight consecutive games stretching back to last season.

On this day, Macauley had a double dose of scoring, putting away two goals three minutes apart in the first half. Macauley scored her first goal unassisted in the 19th minute of play with a laser of a shot from the left corner of the outside box.

Macauley victimized the Raiders three minutes later off a corner kick by midfielder Lindsey Weening ’06.

The Elis, however, failed to pad their lead in the second half. Colgate would not go quietly, finally breaking through when forward Kelly Kuss converted off a corner kick in the 87th minute. Colgate nearly tied the game in the very last minute on a breakaway shot, but Walker came up big with a diving stop.

“That was a very physical game,” Meredith said. “I knew it was going to be a battle. That’s the way Colgate is, they fight for all 90 minutes. [Colgate] almost scored in the last minute, but Walker made an incredible save to preserve the game.”

Meredith said his team tired at the end of the second half, so he substituted some of his starters to give the reserves time on the field.

“We slacked off a bit at the end,” Meredith said. “That’s kind of my fault. My mentality, thinking the game was over, [was to give the] kids a breather — I was trying to give playing time [to non-starters]. Maybe I should have waited until we got a third goal.”

But the Bulldogs had to make due with just two goals on 19 shots to Colgate’s 13 shots and lone score. Walker had five saves on the day while playing in goal for all 90 minutes. Defender Lindsay Demaree ’05 said the last nerve-racking minutes of the game reminded the Elis of their missed scoring chances in the second half.

“I think we’re pretty confident, but there are definitely things we still need to work on,” Demaree said. “We had other opportunities to score. If it had been 3-0, I think the game would have been completely different. We know we are capable of taking another step. We are all excited to see it all come together.”

Ever since the Bulldogs lost four straight games between Sept. 17 and Oct. 2, in which they did not score a single goal, Meredith has stressed the importance of first-half goals. In early October, the Elis switched up their offense to include a second player up front in order to create more scoring chances

The move has been effective so far. During their four-game winning streak, five of the Elis’ seven goals have come in the first half. Macauley said the team is finally getting used to the midseason formation change.

“We play with the 4-4-2 now,” Macauley said. “We’re more comfortable every game combining up front and creating scoring opportunities.”

The Elis will take their momentum into next weekend’s critical Ivy matchup against the University of Pennsylvania (6-4-1, 3-0-0) at Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium. The Quakers are currently tied with Princeton atop the Ivy League.

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