Bulldogs offense comes to life against CCSU

For a team that had not scored more than one goal in a game before Sunday, a three-goal victory against CCSU may be a sign that the women’s soccer team has finally developed its offensive rhythm. And although the weather got a little cold in Reese Stadium last night, the team was definitely hot.

“We were just on tonight,” midfielder Eliza Walper ’10 said. “We played through balls behind their defense and connected well in the final third.”

With a rocket shot for a goal within the first 30 seconds, midfielder Natasha Mann ’09 and the Bulldogs offense set the pace for the rest of the game. The Elis created a high-pressure atmosphere and utilized their team depth in order to keep players’ legs fresh and constantly sprinting. In previous games, the number of Yale shots greatly outnumbered goals scored, but the team found more success yesterday converting after gaining an early lead.

“Our biggest problem has been finishing, but when you score a goal on your first shot, it relieves a lot of pressure,” Yale head coach Rudy Meredith said. “After the first goal, we could calm down and play our game. We tried playing long balls early to open up the game.”

Midfielders and forwards alike worked hard near the CCSU net assisting and scoring the goals. The Elis found each other with quick passes that split defenders and created numerous scoring opportunities. With a second goal on a breakaway from forward Emma Whitfield ’09, the team went into halftime holding onto a dangerous 2-0 lead.

“Being up 2-0 is the scariest lead in soccer,” Meredith said. “Usually, whoever scores the next goal wins the game. If they scored, they could switch the momentum. Going into the second half, we wanted to make sure that next goal was scored by us.”

In transitioning from defense to offense, the team used its speed to its advantage to get by the Blue Devils defense. In the 51st minute, Whitfield sailed a beautiful ball from the left wing and connected at the far post with forward Maggie Westfal ’09, who volleyed it into the back of the net.

“We have been doing crossing drills in practice,” Westfal said. “I was pretty open, so I had to take the shot.”

The 3-4-3 formation of the Bulldogs allowed the team to constantly challenge the Blue Devils defense and force turnovers. But the offensive players could not win the game on their own. The solid defensive line held onto a shutout and allowed the team to push up and possess the ball consistently.

“We have really solid defensive players that allow us to have more of an attack,” defender Hannah Smith ’10 said. “Our formation also really helps to compact the field.”

With an efficient offense and a supportive defense, the women’s soccer team came together for an exciting victory. The Bulldogs must now prepare for an Ivy League match at home against rival Princeton University at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

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