A late penalty-kick goal was not enough for the women’s soccer team, as Yale fell 3–1 in a lackluster effort against Columbia on Saturday afternoon.
Yale (7–6–1, 2–3–1 Ivy) dug itself into a hole that it could not climb out of in New York, erasing any hope of a second-place finish in the Ivy League. Meanwhile, Columbia (8–5–3, 1–3–2) earned its first Ivy win of the season and put itself within striking distance of overtaking Yale in the conference standings.
Head coach Rudy Meredith said that the Bulldogs did not put forth the hustle and energy that he has come to expect.
“If our team was a Broadway show, we would have been booed off stage,” Meredith said. “I couldn’t find an MVP if I had a microscope.”
According to Meredith, it was the team’s first truly disappointing performance on the season. Yale came out lethargic but managed to hold off Columbia for the better part of the first half. In the 42nd minute, however, Lions defender Chelsea Ryan converted a penalty kick after a Yale foul in the box to open up a 1–0 Columbia lead.
The Bulldogs were unable to regroup in the second half, as Columbia padded its lead with a goal just 70 seconds after halftime. Forward Beverly Leon beat Yale goalkeeper Elise Wilcox ’15 for Leon’s team-leading eighth goal of the season.
But Columbia was still not finished as the Lions found the back of the Bulldogs’ net for a third time. Forward Phoenetia Browne fired a shot in the 62nd minute from the left side of the goal that snuck inside the far post. The goal was Browne’s fourth of the season. Captain and defender Shannon McSweeney ’14 said that the Elis did not play like their normal selves against the Lions.
“We were in a funk from the beginning and had a hard time getting out of it,” McSweeney said. “I wish I could put my finger on why we all seemed to struggle.”
The Bulldogs did stave off a shutout, earning a penalty kick of their own in the 84th minute. Forward Melissa Gavin ’15 converted the penalty kick, boosting her season total to 10 goals. Gavin trails Harvard forward Margaret Purce by just one goal for the league lead, but has one more game remaining than Purce. Nevertheless, Gavin said that the scoring title is not her main concern.
“My goal for the weekend is to do whatever I can to help the team win our last two games,” Gavin said. “If I happen to end the season as leading scorer by doing that, then that would be a great byproduct, but I’m not thinking about it.”
Meredith echoed Gavin’s sentiments, and noted that Gavin’s scoring usually leads to positive results for the Elis.
The disappointing performance on Saturday was unique in the history of the Yale-Columbia series. Entering this weekend’s game, the Lions had defeated the Bulldogs just five times in 26 matchups.
Additionally, Yale had never previously allowed three or more goals to a Columbia squad.
“I think we panicked too much and made too many bad mistakes at crucial times,” Meredith said. “We probably should have brought our checkbooks because we paid every time we made a mistake defensively.”
The regular season concludes next weekend as each team in the Ancient Eight has one more conference game to improve its standing. Yale could finish anywhere from third to sixth in the Ivy League standings depending on next weekend’s results. Harvard (11–3–2, 6–0–0), on the other hand, will be playing for little more than an undefeated Ivy season, as the Cantabs clinched their 11th Ivy League women’s soccer title this weekend.
Yale will have one final weekend of action, with a home-and-home series against Brown (8–6–1, 3–2–1). The Bulldogs will host the Bears in the conference matchup on Friday night before traveling to Providence on Sunday for a game that will not count towards the conference standings.
Kickoff against Brown is slated for 7 p.m., Friday at Reese Stadium.