WOMEN’S SOCCER | Bulldogs break even

The women’s soccer team managed to rebound with a tense overtime thriller, defeating the Towson Tigers 4–3 on Sunday.
The women’s soccer team managed to rebound with a tense overtime thriller, defeating the Towson Tigers 4–3 on Sunday. Photo by Maria Zepeda .

The women’s soccer team received a rude awakening Friday afternoon when No. 12 Georgetown handed the Bulldogs their first loss of the season by a score of 8–0. Yale managed to salvage the weekend with a tense overtime thriller, defeating Towson 4–3 on the road.

The Bulldogs (3–1–0, 0-0 Ivy) were the first to attest that the Hoyas (7–0–0, 0-0 Big East) are a legitimate national champion contender. Yale hung in for the first 30 minutes of the match, trailing only by a goal, but Georgetown dominated from that point forward. Yale surrendered three goals in a nine-minute stretch right before halftime, which opened the floodgates. Georgetown tacked on four more goals in the second half to continue its excellence thus far this season, outscoring opponents 27–3.

“They were just better athletically and in the air,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “We gave up three goals on corner kicks, which just doesn’t happen often.”

Yale did manage to escape the road trip with one victory to show for its travels, overcoming Towson (3–4–1, 0-0 CAA) in a hard-fought overtime battle. This was the first game of the season to go to overtime for the Bulldogs.

It was a game of momentum shifts as forward Melissa Gavin ’16 once again ignited Yale’s offense. Gavin found the back of the net in just the second minute of the match for her third goal of the campaign. Gavin capitalized off the first assist of the season from defender Meredith Speck ’16.

The Towson Tigers responded in resounding fashion. In a 13-minute span to start the second half, the Tigers turned a 1–0 deficit into a 3-1 advantage, much to the chagrin of Meredith.

“The communication with our whole defensive unit needs to improve,” Meredith said. “It’s coming along but we’ve made a couple mental errors.”

Yale fought back resiliently as midfielder Geny Decker ’17 continued her productive freshman season with her third goal in four games, scoring in the 63rd minute off another assist from Speck. Fittingly enough, it was Gavin who scored the equalizer, tying things up at three in the 86th minute. After a scoreless first period of overtime, it did not take long for Yale to walk away with the victory.

Just a minute and 14 seconds into the second overtime period, forward Paula Hagopian ’16 picked the perfect time for her first goal of the season, connecting with a strike from eight yards out. Speck once again orchestrated the goal, streaking down the left flank of the field after handling a long ball from midfielder Frannie Coxe ’15, before crossing it to Hagopian for the game-winner.

It was a gutsy effort for the Bulldogs, especially on the heels of Friday’s blowout.

“We took a lot out of Georgetown and seeing where we made our mistakes,” Speck said. “It was great to see us come back and not doubt ourselves.”

Coming back from a second half, two-goal deficit was something that Meredith could not recall happening during his 19-year tenure at Yale.

“That certainly showed a lot of heart and character,” Meredith said. “That is rare in soccer, and certainly rare for our program.”

There will not be much time to reflect on the weekend as Yale has a three-game week of in-state foes, beginning on Wednesday when it hosts Hartford (3–1–3). Sacred Heart (2–5–0) and Fairfield (3–3–0) are also on the slate for the Bulldogs next weekend.

Meredith is aware that the short week will impact how the Elis prepare, and he is looking for more productivity off of the bench and for more players to step up, just as Hagopian did on Sunday.

“This game was absolutely a confidence boost for us coming back from the two goal deficit,” Hagopian said. “It is definitely going to be a great thing for us going forward.”

The Ivy League portion of Yale’s schedule will get under way on Sept. 28 at Princeton.

 

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