Usually keeping your opponent scoreless for 90 minutes is enough to win a soccer game, but for the women’s soccer team, 90 minutes just wasn’t enough.
After opening their season with three straight wins, the Bulldogs (3-1, 0-1 Ivy) lost 1-0 in overtime to the Cornell Big Red (2-1, 1-0 Ivy) in the opening weekend of Ivy League play.
Cornell junior Sarah Olsen scored the overtime goal at 92:26 after the ball bounced in the box and caught Yale defenders and goalie Lindsay Sabel ’03 off guard.
“[Julie Demichele] had a beautiful ball and [Emily Knight] flicked it and then I was just there,” Olsen said.
The goal capitalized on one of the Bulldogs’ main weaknesses — balls in the air.
“We’re terrible in the air,” Yale head coach Rudy Meredith said. “We just let balls bounce in the box.”
Playing balls in the air is largely about timing, which comes from mental focus and repetition. Meredith said the Elis have been working on trapping and volleying in practice and will continue to do so.
Throughout the first 90 minutes of play, the Bulldogs and the Big Red were evenly matched, battling for every ball and thwarting each other’s scoring opportunities.
“We played well the whole time against an excellent team,” Cornell head coach Berhane Andeberhan said. “This was a perfectly matched game. I leave with a lot of respect for [Yale].”
At times Yale even dominated play, pushing the ball deep into Cornell territory for long stretches of the game.
“I feel like we were definitely the better team out there,” Yale captain Sara Ruiz ’02 said. “It’s a matter of us being ready in the first half and putting the team away early.”
Although Yale out-shot Cornell 16-12 in the game, the Elis were unable to capitalize on their numerous scoring opportunities, which included a shot off the crossbar and a free kick late in the second half.
“In the first half, we didn’t have that much movement,” Ruiz said. “In the second half we had a lot more opportunities to score. We really weren’t connecting that final pass.”
Meredith was also concerned with his team’s lack of finishing power.
“The difference in the game is that they get one chance and they score, we get six or seven chances and don’t score,” Meredith said. “The chances we did have we didn’t finish.”
While Meredith was frustrated with his team’s offense, he said the defense played an excellent game against the Big Red. Before giving up the overtime goal, Sabel had logged five saves.
“I thought our defense played well,” Ruiz said. “They did a great job, I don’t know what happened with that final goal. If we’d scored on some of our opportunities, we wouldn’t have been in that situation anyway.”
The Bulldogs will only have two days to regroup until they head to West Point to face Army (2-2-1). This will be the first away game for Yale. Last season, the Elis were 2-4-1 on the road.
Yale defeated Army 4-1 at home last season. Chandra King ’03 had a hat trick in that contest. The Bulldogs are going to be looking to players like King, who has two goals this season, to spark the Eli offense.
Yale will have to sit on its 0-1 Ivy record until next Saturday when the squad faces Harvard.
“We’re just going to take this and roll with it and control our own destiny,” King said.