The referee’s shrill whistle — offsides! — signaled the end of Bulldog hopes in Saturday’s women’s soccer game against Princeton.
After trailing the Tigers (4–3–0, 1–0 Ivy) by a goal for more than 60 minutes, the Bulldogs struck in the final 10 seconds of play when forward Kristen Forster ’13 found the back of the net on a breakaway run. But as the Elis celebrated the goal that would send the season’s first Ivy League game into overtime, the referee nullified the goal with an offsides call — sealing Princeton’s 1–0 win at Reese Stadium.
Head coach Rudy Meredith said the team watched video footage of the game afterward, and believed Forster was not offsides on the play and her goal should have stood.
“It’s frustrating because there’s nothing you can do about it and the referee said after the game he could guarantee me she was offsides, but you watch the tape and she wasn’t offsides,” Meredith said. “It’s very frustrating because it changes the results and it could change the whole season.”
The Bulldogs (2–5–1, 0–1 Ivy) fought resolutely against Princeton throughout the match, but struggled to finish scoring opportunities.
Forward and team captain Becky Brown ’11 nearly capitalized in the eighth minute when she dribbled into the box and sent a left-footed shot zinging off the post. Eight minutes later, forward Miyuki Hino ’12 fired a shot inches over the crossbar.
But Princeton hit the net first to take a 1–0 lead when forward Jen Hoy, who has a team-leading five goals, outraced a Yale defender and lofted a shot into the upper-right corner of the goal in the 29th minute.
Hoy had another chance to score from close range in the 33rd minute, but goalkeeper Ayana Sumiyasu ’11 rushed out to block the shot before Hoy could find a good angle.
Princeton outshot Yale 6–4 in the first half, but the Tigers only had one shot on goal — Hoy’s goal — and the Elis registered none.
“I think we were all very frustrated because [Princeton] only had that one chance and they scored,” midfielder Enma Mullo ’12 said. “We had so many opportunities and weren’t able to put it away.”
Both sides came out hard after the intermission, but Yale continued struggling to finish attacks. The Tigers repeatedly broke up Eli runs, not fully countering Yale efforts but playing long balls toward the Yale goal.
The game also became rougher as the second half wore on.
Forward Jessica Schloth ’14 took the ball down the field early in the half, but lost control of the ball before she could fire a shot at the edge of the goal box. A free kick by Princeton in the 65th minute soared straight through the Yale defenders, but the Tigers couldn’t finish the play. Two minutes later, Sumiyasu saved a sharp shot by Hoy.
The Elis failed to capitalize on two successive corner kicks taken by Mullo in the 72nd and 73rd minutes, but midfielder Juliann Jeffrey ’14 and Mullo each got a shot off in the next six minutes.
The Bulldogs continued to press their opponents, but the Tigers frequently intercepted Yale’s long, airborne passes or beat the home team to the ball.
“We have to work on finishing,” Mullo said. “I don’t think [Princeton defenders] were impressive at all, just we couldn’t put it away… I thought it was pretty fair when it came to 50-50 balls. They won some and we won some.”
With less than five minutes left on the clock, the Elis seemed to gain a fresh wave of energy as they fought to tie the score.
A free kick by Mullo from 30 yards out soared over the net in the 86th minute, and forward Mary Kubiuk ’13 had her run to the inside of the goal box foiled moments later. Jeffrey shot from point-blank range at 88:47, but goalie Kristin Watson dove to her right for the save.
Then Forster got the ball as the final seconds ticked away, sprinting toward the box and lofting her shot over Watson into the upper-right corner of the net. But the goal did not stand.
“The clock was winding down and I was just trying to make the best of a scoring opportunity,” Forster said. “It’s just unfortunate. We should have put our chances away earlier in the game. It shouldn’t have come down to that.”
Princeton and Yale tallied five shots apiece in the second half. Sumiyasu finished with six saves.
The Elis take the field next against non-league opponent Marist at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Reese Stadium, but Meredith said the bigger focus is preparing to face Harvard on Saturday. He said the loss to Princeton should spur Yale to finish chances against its archrival.
“I guess [the loss] should give us maybe more determination in the next game to be like ‘OK, we’ve got to take care of business, we can’t leave it up to the referee,’” Meredith said. “The bottom line is that we didn’t score. If we had scored earlier on the game, that call wouldn’t have mattered. It wouldn’t have made a difference.”