Halfway through the Ivy League season, a repeat conference title is already out of reach for the women’s soccer team.
After losing to Cornell last Saturday, the Bulldogs (6-6-1) now have a 2-2 record in the Ivy League, which puts them just out of reach of the possibility of being back-to-back titleholders. With just four games remaining in regular season play, the team is focused on completing the rest of the season without another loss in hopes of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“We need to win all four remaining games, but also stay focused on winning one game at a time,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “We know we have the capability of playing with all of these teams.”
Throughout the season, the Bulldogs have had to overcome the loss of players in the lineup due to injury. The team has had to play without starting goalkeeper Chloe Beizer ’07 since early in the season and has also dealt with injuries to captain Christina Huang ’07, forward Leslie Perez ’10 and most recently goalkeeper Susie Starr ’08.
“We have had to overcome a lot of difficulties like injuries this season, but I think we have done well, all things considered,” forward Caitlin Collins ’10 said. “Our strong team unity has proved helpful on and off the field.”
With nine returning starters, the season began with an unusually large number of experienced players capable of leading the team to a successful season. But as the season has progressed, the team came up short in several games in which Yale was the better team and should have won, Meredith said.
“Last year we were able to beat teams that we were better than, but this year we have been as good, if not better than, several teams and have not been able to put them away,” he said.
The Bulldogs do not lack talent, but they have struggled this year to put points on the scoreboard. At the same point in last year’s season, the Bulldogs had scored 29 goals, while this year’s team has only scored 15 so far.
In preparation for the last four games of the season, younger players are beginning to take charge and spark excitement in the team to go after four final victories.
“[Defender] Sophie Merrifield [’10] and [forward] Maggie Westfal [’09] are both underclassmen who have become leaders on the field,” forward Mimi Macauley ’07 said. “They continue to play hard on the field, communicate well, and lift everyone up.”
The team still has a chance at post-season play if they win their next four matches against Penn, Quinnipiac, Columbia and Brown. To meet this goal, the Bulldogs are working on mastering the basics to win each game as it comes.
“Our strategy is to score and not get scored on,” Collins said. “Every game is important, so right now we are taking it one game at a time, one win at a time.”
With the potential to play beyond regular season, the Bulldogs now more than ever need to step up and fight for every ball, every goal and every win.