The Yale women’s soccer team is not used to giving up three goals to any team — but especially not to arch-rival Harvard.
The Crimson (7–5–1, 4–0 Ivy) outscored the Bulldogs (8–5–0, 3–1) 3–2 Tuesday at Reese Stadium, handing the home team its first conference loss of the season and knocking the squad to second-place in the Ivy League standings.
“They were good,” forward Becky Brown ’11 said of Harvard. “I give them credit because they scored three goals on us at home, and they were on the road midweek …We can’t really make any excuses.”
The Cantabs and Elis were tied as conference leaders with identical 3–0 records heading into yesterday’s game and looked evenly matched for most of the competition, but Harvard ultimately made the plays that mattered and came out on top.
“This was our chance to be 4–0,” goalkeeper Ayana Sumiyasu ’11 said. “It’s not the end of the world, but now we have to win every game.”
Down 1–0 at halftime, Yale scored two goals within a 6:09 span in the beginning of the second period to take a 2–1 lead. But the Crimson never gave up and responded with a pair of goals in the 72nd and 79th minutes to secure the win.
“We just couldn’t string it together for 90 minutes,” midfielder Megan Ashforth ’11 said. “We’ll have to go back and look at tape to see exactly where we went down, but Harvard is a good team and they will make us pay when we make mistakes.”
Yale came out strong in the first half, tallying three shots in rapid succession just five minutes into play.
But Harvard responded with equal intensity and was the first team on the board, when midfielder Gina Wideroff outraced Sumiyasu to a long pass from defender Katherine Kuzma and headed the ball into the net at the 30-minute mark.
Both sides finished up the first half with four shots, and Harvard had a 3-1 advantage in corners.
“We gave up a soft goal in the beginning,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “It was a little unfortunate that we gave up a goal like that, but I give us credit for fighting back.”
Whatever Meredith said to his team during halftime seemed to work, because Yale took its play to a new level after the restart.
“We came out well in the second half,” Ashforth said. “We had a lot of energy, and we were able to go up a goal.”
Forward Miyuki Hino ’12 struck in the 47th minute to tie the game at one, when she headed in a cross forward Leslie Perez ’10 had sent in from the left sideline. Freshman forward Kristen Forster ’13 also earned an assist for the goal; she now heads the team with seven.
Brown added to the tally at 52:59, banging a loose ball sent by Perez into the net after a scramble in front of the box. The goal was Brown’s team-leading 11th of the season and gave the Elis a 2–1 lead.
But Yale’s burst of momentum just did not last, and after 18 minutes of back-and-forth play, the Cantabs tied the match once more. Alexandra Conigliaro’s cross bypassed Yale defenders and a diving Sumiyasu, and Harvard forward Patricia Yau was alone at the right post to tap the ball into an open net.
“I thought it was pretty back and forth — neither team really had possession of the ball,” Brown said of the second half. “I think each team had their little spurts of possession and domination.”
Unfortunately for Yale, Harvard had one more of those offensive spurts than the home team did.
Midfielder Melanie Baskind put the Crimson on top for good at 78:44 when she controlled a centering pass from teammate Katherine Sheeleigh and banged a shot past Sumiyasu.
Yale almost tied the game again with less than 10 minutes left. Forster slipped a shot by Harvard goalkeeper Lauren Mann, but defender Kuzma saved the match for the Cantabs, clearing the ball right before it could cross the goal line.
The Bulldogs were unable to score for the rest of the half, despite a 7-4 advantage in corners.
“They were just able to capitalize one more time than we were,” Ashforth said. “We did have a few errors defensively, and we don’t usually get scored on three times … That’s a lot of goals for us.”
Harvard also outshot the Elis, 14-12, over the course of the match.
Yale returns to action on Saturday in an away match against fourth-place Penn (8–3–2, 2–2).
“We know that we have to win,” Meredith said. “We have to come back and try to take care of business. We can’t control what Harvard does now, so we have to control what we do.”
Kickoff Saturday is slated for 5 p.m.