They play together. They eat together. They even rap together.
Or, at least, on their bus ride to and from Penn two weeks ago, four members of the women’s soccer team — Sophia Merrifield ’10, Kate Macauley ’11, Megan Ashforth ’11 and Adele Jackson-Gibson ’13 — composed and performed a rap about everyone on the team.
It is moments like these — rapping about one another, dancing to Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” and just having fun — that make the women’s soccer squad much more than a sports organization, team members said.
“It’s just one of those things where you spend so much time with the people — whether on or off the field — that they become your experience at Yale,” defender Caitlin Collins ’10 said. “I have nothing but positive things to say about people on the team.”
With a 9-6 season record and 4-2 conference tally thus far, the Elis have certainly encountered success on the field. Yale’s squad is currently second in the Ancient Eight standings, trailing only Harvard, and the Bulldogs have made enormous strides since last year, when they closed the season 8-7-2 overall and 2-4-1 in the conference.
“I think that this year we have a common goal,” Ashforth said. “Starting off, we weren’t happy with how we did last year, and we decided to do something about it. We decided to rally and all get on the same page.”
The team’s winning record is not the only evidence that something has changed. The entire team dynamic has improved, according to head coach Rudy Meredith.
“The chemistry has been unbelievable — a hundred times better than last year,” Meredith said. “I think everyone that is here wants to be here, and wants to do what is best for the team.”
It’s that chemistry that often keeps members of the team together long before and after their two-hour practices finish each day.
Collins said the team organizes brunches, goes out together and has bonding events like this year’s preseason tie-dye party, or a more recent game night with the games Scattergories and Catch Phrase.
The period preceding matches is also a time for the team to come together.
“Before games we always have meetings with our coach, but after meetings are over we all stay together,” midfielder Enma Mullo ’12 said. “Sophie gives a speech, and we put on ‘Party in the USA’ and have dance parties.”
Collins said she believes the closeness and success the team has enjoyed this season reflects the leadership of the seniors.
“I would say that how we do on the field relates very strongly to how well the senior class holds the team together,” she said. “I guess that’s been a running theme on the team — that people look to the seniors for guidance and respect.”
And for many players, one senior stands out in particular: defender and team captain Merrifield.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better captain, coming in as a freshman,” midfielder Jenny Butwin ’13 said of Merrifield. “Everyone calls her the mother figure, but she is so much more than that … She leads by example and fights through her injuries. She’s always positive.”
Butwin called Merrifield the team’s glue, adding that Merrifield sends out “pump-up” e-mails before every game and helps to keep things in perspective.
And then there is the final piece of the puzzle: coach Meredith.
“Rudy’s an awesome coach,” Collins said. “He’s the type of coach that also strives to be your friend … He’s made it very clear to everybody that he always has our backs.”
But wherever the team’s chemistry comes from, it certainly seems to have stuck.
“The strongest relationships that I have at Yale are with some of the girls on the team,” forward Leslie Perez ’10 said. “I see them as my best friends, the people I enjoy the most here … They make me laugh every day and they make Yale so much easier to handle.”