The Elis are going into a matchup against Columbia, tied with Yale for seventh in the Ivies, with the hopes of earning their first Ivy League win of the season.
Only three days after returning from Long Island, Yale (3–8, 0–4 Ivy) is scheduled to play another game tomorrow at home. Although the Bulldogs have struggled on the road, they are back on the offensive track, having scored eight goals against the Seawolves on Wednesday. Despite performing well against tough teams such as Marist and Stony Brook in mid-week away matches, the Bulldogs have not been so lucky in the Ivy matches. Head Coach Anne Phillips said the team has to win its remaining Ivy games to give it a chance for the Ivy Tournament.
“We certainly cannot overlook any team this season and Columbia (2–9, 0–5 Ivy) is a must win for us,” Phillips said.
The team so far has four Ivy losses in total, including the 12–4 upset against Princeton last weekend.
Yale and Columbia are tied for seventh place in the Ivy standings, although the Lions have one more Ivy League loss than the Bulldogs. Both the Bulldogs and the Lions faced the same three conference teams — Dartmouth, Penn and Princeton — and lost to all three.
But whereas Dartmouth crushed Columbia with a nine goal gap (15–4), the Bulldogs lost a very close game (9–8) against the Big Green. The Lions have also lost to Brown and Cornell 14–10 and 19–7, respectively, but Yale has not yet played these conference foes.
Since neither team has a conference win, tomorrow’s match will break the league tie and determine the last spot in the Ivies. If they win this week, the Elis will secure their seventh place standing and gain the opportunity to overtake Brown at sixth place when the two teams take to Reese Stadium next Wednesday.
Phillips said the Bulldogs will be working on the finer points of the offense and the draw so they will be prepared to execute Saturday’s game plan.
When the teams met last season, the Lions took down the Elis 10–3 on their home turf. Yale had a good first half, allowing two goals but successfully taking back two. However, in the second period, the flow of the game turned to the hosts’ favor. Plagued with three yellow cards, the Bulldogs allowed the Lions to score eight more goals, whereas Yale managed to score only one more. The three scorers of last season’s match against Columbia, attacker Devon Rhodes ’13, attacker Jen DeVito ’14 and midfielder Courteney Rutter ’14, are all expected to return for tomorrow’s match, though Rutter did not play in last Saturday’s game.
Except in clears (14–13), the Lions overwhelmed Yale in every aspect. They controlled seven more draws, took four more shots, recorded three fewer turnovers and committed five fewer fouls. Even in saves, another Yale strength besides face-offs, Columbia outdid Yale (15-8). This season, however, the Bulldogs have shown improvement in turnovers and shots. The team has also constantly demonstrated its traditional strength in draw controls, not to mention goalkeeper Erin McMullan’s extraordinary saves. McMullan has recorded 51 saves so far, 20 of them in conference games.
Phillips said controlling the draw will be crucial to Saturday’s match.
“We will focus on not letting [Columbia’s] Kacie Johnson win the draw,” she said.
Johnson, Columbia’s lead scorer with 31 goals and 22 assists, was named second team All-Ivy League last year. She recorded two unassisted goals in the last match-up, including the first goal of the game.
Another player to watch out for is Paige Cuscovitch, a midfielder responsible for pouring in four goals against Yale in last year’s meet. With 24 goals scored this season, Cuscovitch is currently the second lead scorer for Columbia.
Phillips added that if the team can shoot well and limit turnovers, Yale will be able to control the game from the beginning.
The Bulldogs will look to repeat the confident movements demonstrated against the Red Foxes and the Seawolves in order to control possession and gameplay.
“We plan to limit their involvement in controlling the game with defensive matchups,” Phillips said.
On the offensive side, Crow, Yale’s captain, is at the peak of her career. The attacker scored 19 goals so far this season. Fellow attacker Rhodes has scored 13 goals so far.
The Bulldogs will take on the Lions tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Reese Stadium.