W. SOCCER: Crusaders strike early, often

At least things cannot get worse.

That was the collective sentiment after the Yale women’s soccer team (7–4, 2–0 Ivy) suffered a 4–1 loss in last night’s away match against Holy Cross (7–6–1), ending what had been a four-game win streak.

“The good thing is that we can’t get worse than that … we can only get better,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “I don’t know who sings that song ‘You Had a Bad Day,’ but that kept going through my head all day today.”

The 4–1 loss in the final non-league game of the season was a drastic change of pace for the Elis, who entered the contest riding a four-game win streak that drew enough attention from national pundits to earn the team votes in this week’s National Soccer Coaches Association of America national poll.

The Crusaders grabbed control from the start of the match, and the Bulldogs struggled to deal with the home team’s pressure.

Midfielder Chelsi Pugliese got Holy Cross on the board 15 minutes into play, when she lofted a shot from the 18-yard line beyond the reach of goalkeeper Ayana Sumiyasu ’11. Seconds later, Holy Cross midfielder Maura Fox made the lead 2–0 with an unassisted goal.

“I think that we came out flat, and we gave up a really soft goal in the beginning,” Meredith said. “We haven’t given up two goals in a minute like that all season.”

That minute of the game was enough to set the Bulldogs back for the rest of the match.

Holy Cross finished the half with only four shots to Yale’s two, but the Crusaders had capitalized on their early opportunities and controlled possession for most of the period.

“They got two goals pretty early in the first half, and we were playing catch-up for the rest of the game,” midfielder Kate Macauley ’11 said. “Collectively, we didn’t play as well as we wanted to. We can’t really make excuses for it — the whole team kind of went down together.”

After the halftime restart, it looked like the dynamic might have changed as play became more back-and-forth between the squads, with neither side in absolute control.

In the 80th minute, Holy Cross tipped the balance once again in its favor when forward Liz Early settled a pass from across the box and sent a high shot flying past Sumiyasu to secure the Crusader’s third goal of the night.

For Yale, the goal was just another in a series of rough events.

“Everyone had their mistakes, and I think we all know individually what we did to contribute to the loss,” defender Hannah Smith ’10 said. “Basically we would rush our passes, we would give it right to them, we weren’t winning our 50-50s, we weren’t stepping as a team … It was very unlike us because one of our strengths is helping one another and being there to get the ball back.”

The Elis managed a late-game rally against the Crusaders — and it was enough to break up the shutout.

With barely less than five minutes remaining in the second half, midfielder Trish Berkanish ’13 bypassed a defender on the left side of the penalty area and sent a low shot into the net. It was Berkanish’s first career goal for Yale.

“There was sort of a lot of confusion in the box. And their defender had the ball, and I pressured the ball … and got by a defender,” Berkanish said. “I kind of have mixed emotions because I’m excited that I had my first goal, but I didn’t really get to celebrate because our team didn’t really have our best day.”

Berkanish put the Elis on the board, but the Crusaders answered just 41 seconds later when Fox broke through a scramble in front of the net to score her second goal of the night and put Holy Cross up 4–1, which was the score that held.

The Crusaders out-shot Yale 9–6 in the second half, but the Bulldogs recorded a 4–2 advantage in corners.

“Playing a mid-week game is always tough, and we were away and we underestimated them,” Macauley said. “We just didn’t come out as on top of our game as we should have.”

Meredith said the loss was a reflection of an overall poor team effort and noted that the Bulldogs repeatedly gave away possession to their opponents.

“It was just one of those days when usually on our team, if someone is having a bad day, someone else picks them up. But today there was nobody there to pick each other up,” Meredith said. “To [Holy Cross’] credit, they had a good game plan and were well organized defensively, but the bottom line is that we were really bad today.”

Yale will look to bounce back from the loss when the team takes the pitch at 4:30 p.m. at Reese Stadium on Saturday, kicking off the first game of a Yale soccer double-header against Ivy League opponent Cornell.

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