Just as a Yale student begins each semester on top of his work and then soon falls 400 pages of reading behind, the Yale women’s soccer team is also suffering from a midterm slump.
After beginning the season 3-0, the Bulldogs had gone six games without a victory before last night’s 3-2 win over Stony Brook. But the team’s seemingly mediocre 4-5-1 (0-2-1 Ivy) record is deceptive — each of its five losses came by just one goal.
The Bulldogs’ main weakness has been offensive production. Midfielder Ali Cobbett ’03 leads the Elis with nine goals, but seven of those scores came in the season’s first three games. Since then, Cobbett and her teammates had only managed to find the back of the net once before breaking out for three goals against Stony Brook.
“It’s really frustrating, and it becomes a mental block,” Captain Sarah Ruiz ’02 said. “We have a very skilled team both offensively and defensively — we just lost confidence in our scoring ability.”
Much of the team’s lackluster offensive play is due to many injuries to forwards and midfielders. At various points during the season Ruiz, Chandra King ’03, Ritha Belizaire ’02, Liz Jarchow ’03, Amy Koch ’03 and Maureen Metzger ’05 have all been injured. Those players, in addition to Cobbett, combined for 27 out of the teams’ 34 total points heading into last night.
Despite the Bulldogs’ offensive woes, their defense has played solid all season. Lindsay Sabel ’03 has been particularly effective, with a .074 goals-against average and an Ivy League-leading 7.33 saves per game.
“For the first time in a long time I feel good about the way I’ve been playing,” said Sabel after a 0-0 tie against Dartmouth Oct. 8. Sabel was named to the Ivy League weekly Honor Roll after posting 13 saves against the Big Green.
With four league games left to play, Yale’s destiny is largely in its own hands. But the Elis will have to face first-place Princeton and third-place Penn along the way. At 3-0, defending champion Princeton is tied with Harvard for atop the league standings. The Bulldogs showed that, at their best, they can contend with anyone when they took the Crimson to overtime before falling 1-0.
But against teams like Princeton, Yale will have to find that extra spark to put some goals up on the scoreboard.
“I know as players we get really psyched up for the big games, especially the Ivy games,” Ruiz said. “So I think we’ll be fired up, focused, and ready to win those games.”