As far as campfires go, if it’s too green, it won’t burn. But Yale women’s soccer will look to light up the biggest green of them all this weekend.
Coming off a win against Fairfield on Wednesday, the Bulldogs (6-4-1, 2-0 Ivy) will grapple with the Dartmouth Big Green (6-3-1, 2-0) for dominance in the Ivy League this Saturday. The teams boast similar season records and are tied at 2-0 in the Ivy League. This weekend’s competition is expected to be fierce, Yale head coach Rudy Meredith said.
In Meredith’s 12 years at the helm of women’s soccer, Yale has beaten Dartmouth just twice; the most recent victory was a 2-1 win over the Big Green in the Elis’ second-to-last conference matchup of the 2005 season.
“We’re definitely going to have to bring our A-game if we want to take home a win,” he said.
Last year, the Dartmouth game was played with similar stakes: the No. 1 spot in the Ivy League. Although it was postponed once due to rain, the Elis took advantage of the extended preparation time and earned the one-goal victory over the Big Green later that season.
Dartmouth is a notoriously physical team, Meredith said. Their constant, unrelenting pressure will be the main obstacle to overcome Saturday.
“The key is going to be heart and hustle,” he said. “Dartmouth is known as one of the hardest working teams in the league and we cannot let them outwork us.”
After a strong second half in the Elis 2-1 defeat of Fairfield on Wednesday evening, the self-assured Bulldogs are poised for success, players said.
“The win was good for our team confidence,” forward Crysti Howser ’09 said. “We’re super excited and definitely ready for the big game and the second half was good preparation.”
Coming off an injury to her hip flexor two weeks ago, Howser scored her first goal of the season against Fairfield. Howser was one of several key Eli players who have found themselves sidelined with injuries in the past few weeks. Now that most of the injured players are back on the field, getting game-fit will be crucial to doing well in the long-run, Meredith said.
But the immediate future is of utmost importance, forward Emma Whitfield ’09 said. Despite the magnitude of this game in particular, the Elis have been focusing on one game at a time and have had only two days to prepare specifically for Dartmouth. And with its arrival comes excitement.
“I think everyone’s really excited and kind of nervous for the Dartmouth game, because it has the potential to be the deciding factor for our season,” she said.
The game plan for Saturday is to focus on the Elis’ strengths, Howser said.
“We want to stick to our own game plan and make them adjust,” she said.
Although the Bulldogs still have four more teams to play in the Ivy League — including Penn and Columbia, to whom they lost last season — right now, Meredith said he doesn’t even want to consider games past this weekend.
“Our season is this weekend,” he said. “If we win this game, we can chart our own destiny.”