Women’s soccer NCAA preview: Down the road

The Bulldogs will face either Duke, seeded third in the Elis’ bracket, or Fairfield if they advance past CCSU to second round play in the NCAA Championship.

Duke, which holds a record of 13-5-1, lost its semifinal game of the ACC Tournament to North Carolina and enters the NCAAs with an at large bid. Duke’s success has been spearheaded by its defense, led by ACC Defensive Player of the Year Carolyn Ford. This season, the Blue Devil defense has totaled 10 shutouts and allowed 11 goals in 19 matches.

The Bulldogs faced Duke in their first game of the season in the Nike Carolina Classic. Despite being outshot 17-4, Yale allowed the long-time ACC powerhouse only one goal through 90 minutes. Goalkeepers Chloe Beizer ’07 and Susan Starr ’08 both looked sharp in the opener, posting two and five saves, respectively. But the Elis could not muster more than four shots on goal, failing to convert a scoring chance and losing, 1-0.

Midfielder Crysti Howser ’09, the 2005 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, said another game against Duke is an exciting prospect.

“Having a rematch with Duke would be really great,” Howser said, “We played them in our first game of the season and lost, 1-0, but we really hadn’t practiced together as a team. Since then we’ve gotten a lot better and it’d be interesting to see just how far this team has come if we are fortunate enough to get the opportunity to play them again.”

Fairfield, with a record of 10-6-3, entered the NCAA tournament by winning the MAAC Tournament. Duke and Fairfield face off at Yale Friday prior to the Yale-CCSU game. Although the Stags will be the distinct underdogs when they face Duke, an upset would provide the Elis with a second round opponent they have already beaten this fall. Midfielder Laurel Karnes ’06 scored the game’s only goal when the Bulldogs defeated Fairfield, 1-0, Sept. 27.

Possible third round teams include Valparaiso, Michigan State and Bowling Green, but Notre Dame is the favorite to survive the Bulldogs’ bracket and make the Great Eight. The Fighting Irish finished the season ranked No. 5 in the country with a record of 19-2-0 behind a potent offense (4.51 goals per game).

Should the Elis make it to the finals, they could end up playing national No. 2 North Carolina for the second time this season. The Tar Heels, who finished the fall 20-1-0, outshot the Bulldogs 25-8, but only scored once in their 1-0 victory Sept. 4.

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