Offense explodes, Yale downs Q-pac

It took the Yale women’s soccer team one night to match the number of goals it had tallied in the past month.

In their final home game of the season at Reese Stadium last night, the Bulldogs (7-7-2, 2-3-1 Ivy) recorded an easy victory over Quinnipiac (9-7-2), 4-1. Forward Emma Whitfield ’07, forward Maggie Westfal ’09, midfielder Crysti Howser ’09 and midfielder Emily Haddad ’07 contributed a goal apiece to the team’s strong offensive effort.

“This was one of our best team efforts, offensively,” Yale head coach Rudy Meredith said.

The Bulldogs created several opportunities early in the game. Yale outshot the Bobcats 19-8 and took nine corner kicks to Quinnipiac’s zero.

Whitfield scored 32 minutes into the first half on a powerful shot that Quinnipiac goalie Sarah Lusto fumbled off her hands and into the goal.

“We were able to score first,” Meredith said, “We didn’t have to chase this game, which has been a problem for us all season.”

After winning last year’s Ivy League title and making it to the Round of 16 in the NCAA College Cup, the Elis have had a disappointing season. Last week’s loss to Columbia put an end to any hope of continuing play into the post-season with an at-large bid to the tournament. A win last night and a win against Brown this weekend would give the women’s soccer team its sixth consecutive season finish above .500.

Up 1-0 after the break, the Bulldogs focused on teamwork during the second half. Before returning to the field, the Yale team chanted “together” in the huddle. The increase in communication and unselfish ball handling were key aspects to last night’s victory, team members said.

“Today we really came together as a team and focused on having fun, and that’s what brought us such a good victory,” Westfal said.

Westfal added another goal off a cross from forward Caitlin Collins ’10 at the beginning of the second half, sending the ball whizzing into the left corner of the goal past the diving goalie.

“Caitlin gave up a great opportunity to give me the shot,” Westfal said, “It was the most unselfish play I’ve ever seen.”

The first significant threat to the dominant Bulldog offense appeared in the 66th minute when Bobcat forward Susan Donovan scored on the otherwise perfect Yale defense. Eli goaltender Susie Starr ’08 made three saves over the course of the night.

“We played really good defense and communicated better than we have all season,” said.

After several failed shots on goal by Howser early in the contest, she was able to slip one through in the 73rd minute off an assist from forward Kristen Anderson ’09.

“I had a lot of chances in the first half,” Howser said, “I made a couple of shots where the goalie made surprising saves. It was pretty frustrating. It turns out the one I scored on was the one she should have saved, but that’s the way it goes.”

Then, with only three minutes left in play, Haddad picked up a feed from Anderson and notched her first goal in her four years as a Yale soccer player.

“It was kind of symbolic,” Haddad said, “I work really hard, and everything came together in the last two minutes of our last home game on the last time I will play on our home field.”

Meredith surprised the crowd and the Quinnipiac coach when he pulled Starr from the goal with 2:30 left in the game. Midfielder Mimi Macauley ’07, who had joked with Meredith about playing in goal despite her five-foot-four-inch frame, replaced Starr to make her debut as a netminder. Macauley made one save in the Bulldogs’ victory.

“It made me incredibly happy [to be in goal]” Macauley said.

The Bulldogs marked another first when Starr, who had never played on the field before, was substituted into the game with 2:30 to go. Quinnipiac head coach Dave Clarke argued that Starr was not wearing the appropriate socks and should be removed from the field.

“I didn’t put her in the game out of disrespect,” Meredith said, “I just wanted to play her and have a little fun.”

In their second to last game of the season, the Elis discovered what it took to record a win — early dominance and opportunities on goal, teamwork and sheer enjoyment of the game.

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