Last night the women’s soccer team made good on all the promise shown just two days ago. In the season opener Sunday afternoon, the Bulldogs (1-0-1) unambiguously outplayed La Salle University, but emerged with only a tie. Wednesday, the Bulldogs’ second home game of the season ended with 1-0 victory over Sacred Heart University (0-1-0), with Yale again nearly doubling its opponent’s shot total.

Forward Jamie Ortega ’06 scored the game’s only goal at 43:49. Ortega took a pass from Eleni Benson ’05 in front of Sacred Heart’s goal, and although closely marked by her defender, positioned herself well, kept ahold of the ball and found the back of the net.

Ortega said that although it was exciting to score in just her second game as a Bulldog, Yale’s strengths at passing made the goal a relatively easy feat for her.

“I was just waiting for Eleni, and she did a great job getting me the ball. This team is great at connecting and working together,” she said.

Both of Yale’s goals this season have been scored by freshmen. And like Laurel Karnes ’06, who scored against La Salle on Sunday, Ortega made a crucial difference in the game’s outcome with her kick.

Captain Ali Cobbett ’03 praised the freshmen contributions.

“We’re hoping to do really well this season,” Cobbett said. “This is the best team we’ve had in four years. And it’s the first year where we had real strength on the bench. That’s because the freshmen are so good.”

Yale was able to outshoot Sacred Heart 15-9 in this game largely because they passed often, even during tight situations in front of the opponents’ goal. While the Pioneers ran in bunches, often all going for the ball at once, the Bulldogs maintained a spread-out formation of players in constant communication with each other.

The second half was equally strong as the first for the Bulldogs offensively, with Chandra King ’03 narrowly missing her first goal of the season when she was called offsides after pumping one into the net at 30:46.

Katherine Ling ’03 also moved passed defenders gracefully and shot several times at the Pioneer goal in the second half, but ultimately without success.

On defense, Yale played well, with Ortega, Cobbett and Karnes standing out at midfield, and goalkeeper Lindsay Sabel ’03 shutting down shots without problems. But Sarah Walker ’05, who replaced Sabel in the middle of the second half, made several saves that were nothing short of heroic. At 74:20, she dove to the ground, subjecting her body to a flurry of charging Pioneer spikes as she swiped the ball clear of the area. Three minutes later, she did it again.

Yale head coach Rudy Meredith said he has been pleased with his team’s performances this year, and that this weekend’s match-up with Princeton could be a preview of the Ivy Championship.

“We have a lot of experience on this team, and good freshmen too. Our unity is better than it’s ever been. Our record should have been two ‘W’s, but it’s one ‘W’ and a tie, and I can live with that,” he said.

Yale hosts Princeton at the Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium this Saturday at 7 p.m.

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