The women’s soccer team suffered a crippling blow to its Ivy League title chances Saturday afternoon, falling to Dartmouth by a score of 1–0.
It was more of the same for the Bulldogs (5–5–0, 1–2–0 Ivy) as they continued on a disconcerting trajectory. The loss to Dartmouth (5–4–2, 2–1–0) marked the fifth consecutive game in which the team entered halftime trailing, having been outscored 7–0 in the first stanza during this stretch.
One would have to go back seven games to find a contest in which Yale scored in the first half. The Elis last accomplished this feat when they scored in the second minute of action against Towson on Sept. 15.
“Our goal was to go 45 minutes without giving up a goal,” head coach Rudy Meredith said.
Yale came out with high intensity and was able to efficiently connect its passes and make runs for the first 20 minutes. The offense stalled after that point, however, and Dartmouth managed to control possession for much of the remaining 70 minutes.
With exactly nine minutes left in the first half, the Big Green broke through as forward Emma Brush headed in her team-leading sixth goal of the season. Forward Corey Delaney was able to dribble past Yale forward Georgiana Wagemann ’15, who was a step slow after suffering an apparent leg injury just moments before the play. Delaney’s cross-landed on the head of Brush, who managed to direct it off the far post and in past goalkeeper Rachel Ames ’16.
The goal would stand as the game-winner, overshadowing a great performance in net by Ames. The sophomore made nine saves on the day, including two spectacular diving stops in the second half that kept Yale within striking distance.
The final score could have been more lopsided as Dartmouth outshot Yale 26 to 10, including a staggering 19 shots in the first half. The Big Green were averaging just 14.6 shots a game prior to meeting the Bulldogs.
Midfielder Meredith Speck ’15 said that numerous formation shifts may be the reason behind to the team’s lack of potency in the first half.
“I think we’re constantly trying to change our formation,” Speck said. “I think 4–3–3 is what works best for us so hopefully we’ll go with that from here on out.”
Although scoring opportunities were few and far between for the Elis, forward Paula Hagopian ’16 drew a foul in the penalty area in the 84th minute to set up a chance to completely shift the momentum of the game. Forward Melissa Gavin ’15, who entered the game with goals in three of the past four games and leading the Ivy League in scoring, stepped up to take the penalty for Yale.
With all in attendance holding their collective breath, Gavin’s right foot got under the strike and lifted the ball harmlessly above the crossbar.
“I would [have] bet my house on her [Gavin] taking that penalty kick,” Meredith said. “But if I did that today, I would have been homeless.”
Yale fought to the bitter end as Hagopian found herself with a decent opportunity for an equalizer with time winding down. With mere seconds remaining, Hagopian took a shot that skated past Dartmouth goalkeeper Tatiana Saunders before rolling just right of the goal.
The Bulldogs will not have much time to lick their wounds, as the team will face Marist (7–6–2, 5–2–0 MAAC) on the road tonight. The nonconference matchup will not have implications for the Ivy standings, where Yale suffered a critical blow Saturday afternoon, but it should provide a great opportunity for the team to fine-tune its performance for the rest of its conference matchups.
“Our goal was to win out in the conference and that’s still the goal because anything can happen in the Ivy League,” Hagopian said. “More so than the result, Monday will be important to sharpen up mentally before Cornell on Saturday.”
Kickoff at Marist is slated for 7 p.m. Monday night.