Women’s soccer extends winning streak to six

The first time the women’s soccer team traveled south this fall, it returned with a pair of losses. The second time was the complete opposite.

The Elis (6-2) were nothing short of spectacular this weekend in victories over George Mason (4-3) and Maryland (2-5-1), marking their fifth and sixth straight wins since losing to North Carolina and Duke to open the season.

“We had a lot more experience this time,” midfielder Laurel Karnes ’06 said. “A big part of our two losses was that it was our first two games. If we had played Duke later in the season, it would have been a totally different outcome.”

After a perfect three-game stretch of in-state foes, the Bulldogs (6-2) went back south to rumble with George Mason, just across the Potomac from D.C. in Fairfax County, Va. On a sweltering, drizzly night, Yale made itself at home and rolled to a 3-0 victory over the Patriots.

“The conditions weren’t ideal,” captain Eleni Benson ’06 said. “We were sitting on a bus for 10 hours the day before. We were tired and it was rainy, but we fought through.”

Laurel Karnes ’06, fresh off scoring her first goal of the season in last Tuesday’s victory over Quinnipiac, put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard late in the first half. Defender Christina Huang ’07 booted a corner kick in front of the net, and Karnes made the connection past George Mason goalie Kasey Davenport in the 42nd minute.

After early season concerns about offensive production in the first half, Friday’s affair marked the fourth game in a row that the Bulldogs put up a crooked number before halftime.

The Elis turned a nail-biter into a romp in the closing moments of regulation, scoring twice in the last 10 seconds. Maggie Westfal ’09 kicked off the most impressive weekend of her short Yale career by scoring from the edge of the box at 81:04, then defenseman Trista Choksi ’07 notched her first ever collegiate goal less than three minutes later.

Coach Rudy Meredith had billed this weekend as the “second part of his ACC schedule,” having played in tight losses against ACC powerhouses Duke and North Carolina to start the season. Maryland, another ACC beast who made it to the final 16 in the tournament last season, was the next obstacle between the Bulldogs and an extension of their five game winning streak.

Sunday afternoon’s game in College Park, Md., just inside the Capital Beltway, presented the Elis their biggest challenge since their trip to North Carolina. The game stayed tight through regulation, with Yale holding an edge on the Terps in shots on goal with a 25-13 advantage. After battling through the first 90 without either team putting a shot between the posts, the Elis headed to their second overtime of the season.

While the Bulldogs were luckless with all 25 shots during regulation, they managed to find success with only two in overtime. Westfal took a cross from forward Jamie Ortega ’06 and deposited it past the Terrapin goalie to notch her second score of the trip and seal the 1-0 shutout win for the Bulldogs.

“It’s definitely nice to score my first goals of the season,” Westfal said. “But I was more happy to beat Maryland than anything else

The Bulldogs have outscored opponents 13-1 on their current winning streak — their 5-1 victory over Quinnipiac last Tuesday being the only non-shutout.

These first eight games, as impressive as they were, are mere preparation for the beginning of the Ivy League season this coming weekend. The Elis go to the Garden State Saturday night to tussle with the defending Ancient Eight champion Tigers, who edged them 3-0 last season in New Haven.

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