After two thrilling overtime periods, the women’s soccer team came 21 seconds short of achieving victory in a must-win matchup against Penn, settling for a 1–1 tie.
Yale (7–5–1, 2–2–1 Ivy) saw victory snatched away in the final moments of regulation as a questionable foul call resulted in Penn forward Kerry Scalora lining up and banging home a penalty kick to tie the game at one. With the tie at Penn, the Elis fell out of contention for the Ivy League title.
The equalizer was the source of much controversy. Called with 21 seconds left in the second half, the penalty came as players on both sides fought for the ball on a throw-in in front of the Bulldogs’ net. Head coach Rudy Meredith said he still does not know why the penalty kick was administered.
“It was a phantom free kick call,” Meredith said. “None of our team saw it, none of the other team saw it. The only person that saw it was the referee.”
The referee appeared to call the penalty on defender Christina Bradley ’16 for pushing a Quaker in the box.
With Yale stunned and Penn (10–1–4, 3–1–1) elated, Scalora managed to squeak the penalty kick just past the outstretched fingertips of diving goalkeeper Elise Wilcox ‘15.
“It was such an emotional roller coaster,” captain and defender Shannon McSweeney ’14 said. “I went from excitement that we were about to get our third win in the Ivy League, to anger about the call and then I was ultimately so upset that we ended in a tie.”
The late Quaker goal thwarted what seemed to be inevitable so late in the contest: Wilcox’s third straight shutout.
With goalkeeper Rachel Ames ’16 scheduled for concussion tests this week, Meredith said it looks as though Wilcox will remain in net for the near future.
“Elise made a couple big-time saves for us,” Meredith said. “I was frustrated for her that she couldn’t get that third shutout in a row.”
The first half of action saw neither side gain an advantage on the scoreboard, though Penn seemed to have the upper hand on the field. The Quakers outshot the Bulldogs nine to four, but Wilcox’s seven first-half saves kept the game scoreless.
In the 76th minute, Yale broke through and appeared destined for its highest-profile win of the season. Forward Melissa Gavin ’15 directed a corner kick into the box, where players on each side got a piece of the ball. Eventually, forward Paula Hagopian ’16 caught hold of the loose ball and fired it in for the score.
The goal was notable, not just because it gave the Bulldogs the lead, but because of Penn’s robust defensive effort this year. It was the first goal surrendered by the Quakers in six October games, and just the sixth goal that Penn has allowed all season.
Hagopian’s third goal of the season looked as if it was going to be the game-winner, just as her other two goals this year have been. However, the 90th minute penalty kick sent the Bulldogs to the third overtime game of their campaign.
Yale was 2–0 in overtime matchups this year heading into Penn, and the Bulldogs managed to have another strong overtime showing. Mere moments after the Elis felt as though the game had been robbed from them, the team showed pride and resilience in extra time.
“Going into overtime, I think we showed a lot of character in the way everyone refocused on the game and didn’t dwell on Penn tying it,” Gavin said. “We stayed composed and stuck to the game plan, which killed Penn’s momentum pretty quickly.”
Yale outshot Penn 4–2 in the overtime periods, but a game-winner was not in the works for the Bulldogs. As time ran out, a frustrated Yale team had no choice but be content with the tie after pushing Penn, who is second in the Ivy League, to its limit.
Despite now being mathematically eliminated from contention for the Ivy League title, the Bulldogs have exceeded expectations. After one website predicted Yale would finish last in the conference, citing “a nondescript recruiting class and little returning talent,” Yale embarked upon a mission to prove the critics wrong.
“That has been in the back of our minds all season,” Hagopian said. “We want to win out and finish second. Proving the naysayers wrong about us finishing in last place is huge motivation for us.”
The Bulldogs will return to Ivy League action on Saturday as they travel to New York to take on Columbia (7–5–3, 0–3–2). The Bulldogs will have to fend off a hungry Lions team, seeking its first conference win of the season.
Kickoff against Columbia is slated for 1 p.m.