During Monday’s practice, women’s soccer head coach Rudy Meredith called for his players to think about what each of them could do for the team.
They must have listened.
In Tuesday’s contest against Holy Cross, in which five different Bulldogs scored, Yale answered its coach’s call and routed the Crusaders, 6-1, at the Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium.
“Everybody stepped up tonight,” Meredith said. “Everything just clicked.”
Despite outshooting its opponents in previous games, Yale (2-1-1, 0-1 Ivy) had been unable to produce many goals. Tuesday, however, the Bulldogs proved they are a potent scoring force.
“We’ve outshot our opponents in all our games, but we haven’t been able to put the ball in the back of the net,” Meredith said. “It’s been a little frustrating for our strikers.”
Coming off a disheartening 2-0 loss to conference-rival Princeton, the Bulldogs emerged as the unambiguous aggressors in the first half, grabbing a 2-1 lead against Holy Cross.
At 11:03, Jamie Ortega ’06, in a sprint down the left wing, received a pass from Chandra King ’03. In a dazzling display of dribbling, Ortega dismantled the Crusader defense and ripped the ball into the back of the net to thrust Yale into the lead, 1-0.
Later in the first half, Yale extended its lead when Erin Ruck ’05 headed a corner kick from King inside the left post.
“If we kept up our work ethic, we knew we could break the barrier,” said Ruck.
A defensive miscue in the 42nd minute, Yale’s only mistake, allowed Crusader forward Sarah Comeaux to close the gap to 2-1 heading into halftime.
But Yale remained relentless and continued to convert its scoring chances, stretching its lead to 6-1 in the second half.
In a two-on-one break, at 56:52, Lauren Gillies ’03 dumped a pass to King, who with a pretty blast scored Yale’s third goal of the night.
In the 72th minute, Gillies, Laurel Karnes ’06 and Eleni Benson ’05 connected for what, according to Ruck, was the most exciting goal of the year.
With a free kick outside the Crusaders’ box, Gillies passed down to Karnes who lofted a crossing pass that an onrushing Benson headed into the net.
“We practiced that play a couple weeks ago. We had done it over and over for an hour. It worked,” Ruck said. “It was awesome.”
Gillies scored on an assist from Jessica Berggren ’06, and Benson had another to complete the Bulldog scoring frenzy — a true team effort.
The team chemistry was palpable; the players always appeared to know where their teammates were on the field.
“Team chemistry is definitely one of the strong points of our team,” Ruck said. “I think we really came together.”
Last year’s team may have been missing some parts. But with the addition of talented freshmen — including Ortega and Karnes — and the return of Gillies, who was sidelined with a leg injury last year, the team is very much the powerhouse Meredith predicted it to be.
“[The freshmen] have had a major impact,” Meredith said. “I thought that they would be able to help us off the bench, but they’ve been great in starting slots.”
Yale takes on Hartford at the Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium Saturday at 4 p.m.
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