Last night’s crosstown clash was ugly and physical, but when the dust cleared, the women’s soccer team had sent Quinnipiac home on their familiar white bus, victims of Elis’ first true rout of the season.
On a hazy, sticky evening under the lights at the Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium, the Bulldogs (4-2) pummeled a frustrated Bobcats team (2-3), netting two goals in the first 10 minutes and never looking back in the 5-1 blowout. The Elis had been rock solid on defense in their first five matches, but last night they displayed an offensive prowess unmatched thus far this season.
Head coach Rudy Meredith said that last night’s effort was just another step in the right direction for a team that has played six games in the last 11 days.
“Part of it is that we only had six days of preseason,” he said. “We hope to get stronger each week. So far we have definitely gotten better and better with each start.”
Yesterday’s start was undoubtedly the most impressive.
“This kind of game has been a long time coming,” captain Eleni Benson ’06 said. “We should’ve started scoring like this earlier in the year, but this was a great game.”
The victories over Hartford and Central Connecticut last weekend were fueled by freshman goals, and last night was no different. Forward Emma Whitfield ’09, who scored Friday’s game-winner against the Hawks, blasted out of the gate to score the first two goals, and current Ivy League Rookie of the Week Crysti Howser ’09 added two of her own in the second.
Despite joining defender Hayley Zevenbergen ’09 as the second straight Eli to win Rookie of the Week honors, Howser remains modest about her on-field success.
“As a freshman, it was a surreal start to play my first games at Yale against Duke and North Carolina,” Howser said. “But with this team and these teammates, we knew we were going to score a lot of goals, and being in the midfield and up front, Emma [Whitfield] and I that some were going to be ours.”
Whitfield’s goals came at 1:02 and 8:35 in the first half, marking the first time this season the Elis put two goals on the scoreboard before halftime. Quinnipiac’s Danielle Kim halved the deficit on a goal with 30 seconds left in the half, but that would be all Yale would hear from the Bobcats.
Quinnipiac looked overmatched from the start, and Meredith and Benson both criticized the visitors for being overly aggressive.
“This game was not as much physical as it was dirty,” Benson said. “We were far more skilled and they knew it, so the tactic they chose was to take out our players.”
This came to a head 10 minutes into the second half, when forward Mimi Macauley ’07 was taken down at mid-field by a Bobcat forward. After a scary couple of minutes where she lay on the ground, Macauley walked off the field with help from the cheers of the 372 fans in attendance.
“She had the wind knocked out of her — she’ll be fine,” Meredith said. “It was a physical game. The ref let the game go loose, and when that happens, you’re going to see a lot of contact.”
The Bulldog offense only got better in the second. Howser headed a Christina Huang ’07 corner kick past Bobcat goalie Sarah Lusto at 67:28. Seven minutes later, midfielder Laurel Karnes ’06 notched her first score of the season and Howser capped the scoring with her second goal at 79:42.
Chloe Beizer ’07 and Susan Starr ’08 each played a half in net again tonight. Meredith said the two, who have shared minutes all season, will continue to split duties for at least the next few games.
“There will be no changes until we see some more separation,” he said “This weekend will a big test — Maryland, George Mason, we’re going to need to fight for these ones.”
The Elis are done in New Haven for the rest of the month, as they play their first of four away games against George Mason in Fairfax, Va. Friday night.