Elis close in on NCAA bid

The women’s soccer team left a strong impression as the Bulldogs finished out their last game of the season with a thrilling 1-0 overtime victory over Brown Saturday in Providence, R.I.

The win against Brown (7-10, 2-5 Ivy) capped off an eight-game winning streak this season for the Elis (13-4, 5-2) and tied the team record of 13 wins in a single season. Yale also won 13 games in 1992, 1996 and 1998. With a long winning streak and a formidable record against an impressive line of opponents, the Bulldogs hope that Saturday’s win will be enough to earn them a berth into the NCAA Tournament. The 64-team field will be announced today on ESPNews at 4:30 p.m.

“I think that because of some of the strong opponents we played and beat, like Pennsylvania and UConn, we definitely have a good chance of getting in the tournament this year,” captain Sarah Walker ’05 said.

Two years ago, the Elis received an at-large bid, marking Yale’s first-ever appearance in the tournament. But history was nearly put on hold that year after the Bulldogs ended the regular season with a loss to a Brown squad which had not won an Ivy League game all fall. With postseason hopes on the line and a season-ending game against the inferior Bears, the Bulldogs found themselves in a similar position this weekend as they were in two years ago.

But unlike in 2002, on Saturday the Elis did not falter against Brown. The Bulldogs dominated play in the first half, outshooting the Bears, 12-1, but were unable to produce a goal. The second half was much of same as the Elis continued to outplay their opponents but could not find the back of the net. With the score knotted at 0-0 after the end of regulation, the game headed into overtime.

Five minutes into the extra period, the Bulldogs finally broke the gridlock. Midfielder Jessica Berggren ’06 served a cross in front of the net that forward Jamie Ortega ’06 deflected into the goal to give the Bulldogs the 1-0 win. Ortega is second on the team in goals (four) and third in points (nine).

Walker made four saves in goal on the day to post her seventh shutout of the season while Brown goalkeeper Hilary Wilson collected 10 saves for the Bears.

“We dominated the game in general,” Berggren said. “We had way more opportunities to score than Brown, and it paid off in the end.”

With the win, the Elis secured a second-place finish in league standings. Princeton won the Ivy League championship and the conference’s automatic bid to the tournament. The Tigers (15-2, 7-0) clinched a tournament berth for the sixth straight year.

Since 2000, the Ancient Eight has sent at least two teams to the tournament. While only a pair — Dartmouth and Princeton — earned berths last year, in 2001, half the league made the postseason.

“We’ve done all we can do,” Yale head coach Rudy Meredith said. “It’s in the committee’s hands now. We knew this would be a tough game. Brown is a good team and very well-coached.”

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