“Let’s get a goal,” Katherine Ling ’03 screamed from the sidelines early in the first half.
The women’s soccer team (4-1-1), however, played almost 70 minutes before Eleni Benson ’05 answered Ling’s cry in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Quinnipiac (0-6-1). The victory was Yale’s third in a row.
Quinnipiac’s stingy defense stymied Yale throughout the first half. Playing only one forward, the Bearcats relied on a heavily reinforced backfield to thwart Bulldog attackers.
“Quinnipiac bunkered in and played very defensively,” Yale head coach Rudy Meredith said. “Once we scored a goal, I knew that the field would open up.”
But the opening-half offensive woes that have become habit for the Bulldogs left the game scoreless heading into halftime. Early in this season, Yale has started games slowly but emerged from the break with intensity.
“We needed someone else to step up and score,” Meredith said. “At halftime, we were able to make adjustments. There are no time-outs in soccer, so you have to wait until halftime until you can [make adjustments].”
Meredith pushed his defense forward in the second half, adding the pressure the Bearcats would eventually crack under. Forced out of the backfield, the defense was relegated to an offensive role. With a team in which everyone is an offensive threat, according to Benson, finding another scoring option was not difficult.
“[Team unity] is the mark of a good team. Everyone is dangerous on the field,” said Benson, the team leader in goals and points.
At 68:37, a give-and-go between defenders Jennie Garver ’03 and Benson gave the latter an opening in the Bearcat box. Benson used several dribbles to get behind the defenders, then nestled the ball inside the post to seize the lead for the Bulldogs.
“The defense really stepped it up. They have been playing really well; for them to score is a bonus,” Meredith said.
Despite its youth, the Eli defense exhibited a poise and patience usually expected only of seniors. April Siuda ’06 and Maureen Metzger ’05 have been outstanding in the early going of the season.
Yale’s goalkeeping has also been rock-solid with Lindsay Sabel ’03 recording her second consecutive shutout and third of the season.
With Benson’s goal, the field opened up, as Meredith predicted. Yale’s sheer synchronism — its greatest strength — took form and the Bulldogs, with their network of passes and combination sets, controlled the rest of play. They outran, outpassed and outplayed the Bearcats.
At 68:37, Chandra King ’03, who had tormented Quinnipiac all game, fired a free kick that found the back of the net to extend the lead to 2-0.
Riding a three-game winning streak and ranked No. 9 in the Northeast region, the Bulldogs will look to climb the rankings and earn their first Ivy League victory when they travel to Cornell Saturday.
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