Controlling a game is supposed to be hard.
But the women’s soccer team made it look easy, taking control in a game against Fairfield and picking up more momentum heading back into Ivy play. The Bulldogs (6-4-1, 2-0 Ivy) beat the Stags (4-4-4), 2-1, last night in an uneven game not fully reflected by the score. While Yale held possession of the ball for most of the game, the Stags held the score to 1-0 for a large part of the game.
The Elis held the upper hand in the first half but the Stags scored first on a defensive break in the 18th minute. Fairfield forward Alex Caram was alone at the top of the box and took a shot that went past the diving keeper Susie Starr ’08 into the lower left corner of the net.
Captain and defender Christina Huang ’07 said the Stags had that opportunity because of a defensive breakdown.
“That was more an organization problem,” she said. “We came out a little sluggish. We did play better after that goal, especially in the second half.”
After a mediocre first frame, the Bulldogs showed off their abilities in the second. The team’s play was fluid after the break: The women were moving the ball with ease in the midfield and put consistent pressure on the Stags defense. The Elis’ hard work was rewarded with two goals to take the lead, 2-1. These goals only came after bottled up play inside the box, which created tension in the game but also gave the Bulldogs plenty of opportunities to score.
“We had a rough start,” forward Emma Whitfield ’09 said. “Getting that [second] goal was like a sigh of relief.”
The Bulldogs played the rest of the game with more confidence, Whitifeld said. Yale head coach Rudy Meredith also attributed the change in play to the changes made in between periods to adapt to Farifield’s 4-5-1 defensive formation.
“[Fairfield was] playing a system we haven’t played against yet,” he said. “We made adjustments at halftime, which helped in the second half.”
Part of the reason for Yale’s dominant play after taking the lead and for Fairfield’s lack of scoring chances was the return of Huang. Playing in her second game after being sidelined for two weeks, she has reestablished her place as a leader on the field.
“She’s our captain,” Meredith said. “Having your best player 100 percent obviously helps.”
Huang’s consistent play in the defensive end also helped the Elis maintain their offense the game. Wearing a brace on her thigh did not impede her play, but she still has to deal with the after effects of the injury, Huang said.
“The biggest problem is getting back into shape after being out for two weeks,” she said. “Otherwise, it feels really, really good.”
Yale’s season has been plagued with injuries, but Huang’s return is a positive development and should boost the Bulldogs during the rest of Ivy play. The team faces Dartmouth this Sunday in Hanover. The Big Green should be another challenge for Yale because they play a 3-5-2 defensive formation, another one that the Bulldogs have not seen this season, Meredith said.
“This game is for first place in the League,” Meredith said. “Whoever wins will lead with a 3-0 record.”
As the Elis come off a win against Harvard last Saturday and a win last night against Fairfield, they look to carry their energy into Dartmouth and the rest of the Ivy matchups after that.