The women’s soccer team gave its seniors a meaningful going-away present in its last home game Sunday: the team’s first Ivy League victory of the season.
On a quintessential fall day at the Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium, Yale (5-6-1, 1-3-1 Ivy) bested the Brown Bears (3-9-1, 0-5-1 Ivy) by four goals. The team’s 5-1 victory marks the Bulldogs’ first conference win and ties for fifth in the league standings. For the fifth time this season, Ali Cobbett ’03 had a multigoal game to help propel her team to victory. Sara Ruiz ’02 and LeeAnne Jasper ’04 supplemented Cobbett’s three goals with scores of their own.
Ruiz opened up the scoring deluge just nine minutes into the game with a hard shot from outside the box that went through the legs of Brown goalkeeper Mary Jo Markle.
“We let in five soft goals, starting with the first,” Brown head coach Phil Pincince said. “That takes the wind out of your sails, when the ball goes through the goalkeeper’s legs. Yale capitalized on every mistake we made.”
After putting the Elis on the board, Ruiz then set up Cobbett’s first goal of the game at 19:46 with a beautiful cross into the box that Cobbett, seemingly without effort, headed into the net to give the Bulldogs a comfortable 2-0 lead at halftime.
“The key is when we score early,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “Our defense has been playing well enough so that when we score one or two goals, we know we’re going to win.”
Brown was unable to capitalize on all but one of its 19 shots on goal. Freshman Kim Lanzire scored at 52:26 on a rebound from a shot by teammate Michelle Sriwongtong.
With the score 2-1 with 38 minutes to play, the Bulldogs refused to let up and give the Bears the opportunity to spoil the Eli seniors’ last home game. Cobbett tallied her second goal of the game at 67:59 on a low shot from the center of the box. Chandra King ’03 was credited with the assist. Jasper then added her second goal of the season at 74:25. Finally, Cobbett sealed the game for the Bulldogs with under 10 minutes to go by lofting the ball over the goalkeeper’s head from the top of the box.
With his team up by four goals, Meredith was able to substitute for many of his players. In one of the game’s lighter moments, goalkeeper Lindsay Sabel ’03, who had started every game in the net until Sunday, played out the game’s final minutes as a midfielder.
“Everyone knew that it was senior day, and Lindsay understood that the seniors were going to play,” Meredith said. “[Putting her in] was my reward to her for having such a good attitude.”
Sabel stepped aside to allow Sarah Peterson ’02 to start not only her last home game as a Bulldog, but also her first game all season. She had missed the first 13 games of the season with an injury. Peterson, whose 1.28 goals against average is the lowest in team history, logged seven saves in 80:05 of playing time.
“I was definitely nervous getting out there,” Peterson said. “I wasn’t really rusty, it was more nerves.”
Before the game, fans and players paid tribute to the team’s four seniors: Ruiz, Peterson, Ritha Belizaire ’02 and Megan Strenski ’02. Ruiz and Belizaire have combined for 13 points this season, and Strenski, who has one assist on the year, has played in all 15 games at defense.
“Emotions were definitely running high,” Peterson said. “There were definitely some tears in the huddle before the game.”
Meredith echoed the sentiments spoken during the pregame ceremony about his seniors.
“It’s going to be tough for me [not to] see them,” he said. “They’ve been with me through good and bad times. We could have given up this season, and they helped keep the team together.”
Next Saturday, Yale travels to Princeton (12-1-2, 5-0-1 Ivy) for its final game of the season. Princeton has already clinched the Ivy League title.
“We have nothing to lose,” Peterson said of next weekend’s contest. “We want to shake things up.”