WOMEN’S SOCCER | Yale visits defending champs

After seven non-league games, the women’s soccer team will be facing its first Ivy opponent Saturday in the Princeton Tigers.
After seven non-league games, the women’s soccer team will be facing its first Ivy opponent Saturday in the Princeton Tigers. Photo by Maria Zepeda.

The Ivy League portion of the women’s soccer team’s schedule is finally upon the Bulldogs, as the team will travel south on Saturday to face off against Princeton.

The Tigers (4–1–2, 0–0 Ivy) are seeking to get their Ivy League title defense underway with a win against the Bulldogs (4–3–0, 0–0 Ivy), who are in the midst of a two-game losing streak. Princeton, on the other hand, is unbeaten in its last three matches. More impressively, the Tigers are coming off an undefeated Ivy League season last year, becoming only the fourth team to accomplish the feat in conference history.

Yale had won four of its first five games this season and played exceptionally well in a 2–0 win over Hartford last week, seemingly building momentum as Ivy League play approached. But losses to Sacred Heart and Fairfield this past weekend have taken much of the wind out of the Bulldogs’ sails.

This opening match of Ivy League play will pit the league’s two leading goal-scorers against one another, with Princeton freshman forward Tyler Lussi entering play with six goals and Yale forward Melissa Gavin ’15 with five goals. Yale is also represented at the top of the league leaders in assists by midfielder Frannie Coxe ’15, whose five assists place her in a tie with Cornell’s Dempsey Banks.

Coxe is aware that the Elis must demonstrate complete focus and concentration to be a true contender in the Ivy League, beginning this week against Princeton.

“We can’t let up or allow ourselves to have any mental lapses,” she said. “In the Ivy League, one goal can make or break you.”

The Bulldogs found that out the hard way last year, losing their first two Ivy League contests in overtime to Princeton and Harvard, respectively. Head coach Rudy Meredith says the key to success against Princeton is straightforward.

“We have to match their intensity, and we have got to do a better job at keeping the ball,” Meredith said. “One-on-one defending is going to be crucial as well.”

As for who will be minding the net, the Bulldogs are entering their last two days of practice before Saturday’s matchup with the starting goalkeeper position still undecided. It will either be Rachel Ames ’16 or Elise Wilcox ’15, as both have split duties this year, producing very comparable stats. Ames carries a .758 save percentage into play, while Wilcox boasts a .741 save percentage.

“It’s going to be a game-time decision,” Meredith said.

Captain Shannon McSweeney ’14 and Gavin both made the team’s intentions heading into the conference slate quite clear: to win an Ivy League championship and advance to the NCAA tournament. A win at Princeton would be a major step in the right direction.

Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Saturday.

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