It has been 10 days and one emotional rollercoaster ride since the women’s soccer team’s last game, but starting tonight, the Bulldogs are back in action.
After opening their season 2-0 against Sacred Heart and Ohio University, the Elis will face an in-state foe, the Central Connecticut Blue Devils (0-3-1), tonight at 7 at the Soccer/Lacrosse Stadium.
Yale was supposed to play Providence last Friday, but the game was canceled because of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
“The time off is key for us in light of the events of the past week,” captain Sara Ruiz ’02 said. “We feel really rejuvenated and ready to play hard.”
Energy and aggressive play will be key factors in tonight’s game. While the Blue Devils have yet to win a game this season, they have held their own against some formidable teams, including national powerhouse Hartford.
Although ultimately losing 5-0 to Hartford, the team did manage to stay in a scoreless tie with the Hawks for 60 minutes. And with only one goal in four games, the Blue Devils are going to be hungry for a victory.
“This is a dangerous game because they want to win a game and we want to stay undefeated,” Yale head coach Rudy Meredith said. “If we don’t play well, we will definitely lose.”
The Bulldog offense will need to be particularly sharp if it is going to score against Devil goaltender Sabrina Mariani. Mariani, one of 12 new and inexperienced players on the team, has played in three out of four of the Blue Devils’ games. In early September, she was named the Northeast Conference (NEC) rookie of the week.
In addition, the Eli midfielders will have to contend with last year’s NEC rookie of the year, Denise Thomas.
“We’re going into [the game] looking to work as hard as we can,” Ruiz said. “They’re a really physical team, [we need to] physically match them, be aggressive and set the tone in the beginning.”
Getting off to a quick start was key to Yale’s first two victories of this season. The Bulldogs scored two goals in the first half of their 3-1 victory over Sacred Heart, and four of five goals in the first 45 minutes of the shutout against Ohio.
In the past week sports have taken a backseat to the tragedy that affected all of the country. The Bulldogs were no exception, canceling practice the day of the attacks and having both Saturday and Sunday off to regroup. In an effort to return to some sense of normalcy, many players are looking forward to getting back on the field.
“We’re all really excited [about the game],” Ruiz said. “It’s a way to get away from things. It gets out a lot of tension.”
The team, however, knows that the game will not be without its emotional moments.
“I know for me personally, when we play the national anthem, I may cry,” Meredith said. “It has a whole new meaning to me now.”
It is unclear how the 10 days off will affect the Elis’ play in the opening minutes. Ruiz, for one, feels that the time off was necessary and beneficial. Meredith is also not concerned with the lengthy hiatus.
“I think it will affect the team a little bit, but to me right now it’s insignificant,” Meredith said. “Every team has had to deal with the same situation and we are all in the same boat.”