STORRS — The women’s soccer team just couldn’t get on the board Thursday night.
The Elis (1–2–0) dropped their first away game with a 2–0 loss to in-state rival UConn (3–2–1) at Morrone Stadium, handing Yale its second-straight loss since defeating then-No. 16 Penn State in the season opener.
UConn was third in the stretch of tough non-league opponents the Bulldogs face before beginning Ivy League play against Princeton on Sept. 25.
The Huskies came dangerously close to scoring just five minutes into the first half, forcing goalkeeper Adele Jackson-Gibson ’13 to come out of the net and collide with an offender as she knocked the ball out of danger.
The game marked Jackson-Gibson’s first appearance in goal this season. Teammate Ayana Sumiyasu ’11, who played both games this weekend, had been slated to start in net but checked in to the emergency room with a stomach bug around 3 p.m. Thursday, head coach Rudy Meredith said, adding that Sumiyasu has been released from the hospital since then.
Around 3:30 p.m., Jackson-Gibson found out she would be going in net against UConn. Meredith said “surprised” would be an understatement of how the goalie reacted to the news.
“It probably went through her head to wonder if she was getting Punk’d like on MTV,” Meredith said. “But she did fine today. She made some really good saves, and I was happy with how she played under the circumstances.”
Jackson-Gibson certainly saw her share of action as the Huskies pressed Yale relentlessly during the first half. Bulldog defenders repeatedly blocked and cleared their opponents’ attacks, but UConn’s pressure finally paid off in the 15th minute.
Forward Melissa Busque scored her first goal of the season at 14:13 in the first period when she headed in the ball that midfielder Becky Gundling had chipped over Jackson-Gibson.
“It was a very good chip,” Jackson-Gibson said. “It was so close that if I were one step earlier I could have gotten it — but I was one step late.”
The Huskies continued to out-possess Yale for most of the first period. Forward Jessica Shufelt fired a hard shot from about 30 yards out at the 30-minute mark, but Jackson-Gibson leaped to bat the ball over the net. UConn racked up more shots on a pair of corner kicks in the last 15 minutes of the half, but failed to capitalize.
The Huskies outshot Yale 9–2 in the first period, with four shots-on-goal to the Bulldogs’ two.
Both teams came out hard after the restart. Yale switched its formation — playing five midfielders to better match up against the Huskies’ five — and seemed to get more offensive momentum going.
“I think it helped a lot when we changed our formation in the second half,” midfielder Juliann Jeffrey ’14 said. “We moved two players wide which helped us get forward more.”
Midfielder Megan Ashforth ’11 said the Elis played tighter soccer after halftime.
“In the first half we were giving them way too much time on the ball, so they were stringing passes together,” she said. “In the second half we played a little tighter, so they didn’t have as much ball control.”
Midfielder Enma Mullo ’12 had one of Yale’s best chances of the match in the 61st minute after Jeffrey had set her up with a good pass, but UConn goalie Jessica Dulski was there for the save. The Elis made another run with 20 minutes remaining, but UConn struck again several minutes later.
Husky forward Erin Clark broke away in the 79th minute to give the home team an insurance goal. Clark wove through Yale’s defenders before cutting across the edge of goal box to send a long, hard roller clanging off the left post and into the net.
The Bulldogs had a few chances to score in the last ten minutes of play. Forward and team captain Becky Brown ’11 tallied two shots in the final eight minutes and forward Mary Kubiuk ’13 also saw a shot go wide.
“Our back four was under pressure the whole game,” Ashforth said. “I was happy at times with the way we dealt with it, but it also kind of pointed out some weaknesses we have and showed us we have a lot to learn. I think our marking wasn’t as good as it could have been, we were getting caught with long balls, and we were getting caught in foot races with other players.”
UConn outshot Yale 19–7 in the match. Jackson-Gibson finished the day with six saves.
The Elis return to action Sunday when they take on No. 15 Duke in Raleigh, N.C. at 1 p.m.