On Tuesday night, the women’s soccer team realized just how much it had missed midfielder Lauren Gillies ’03.
Gillies’ pass to forward Chandra King ’03 in the 28th minute sparked the Bulldogs’ scoring attack in a 3-0 rout of the Fairfield University (6-6-2). The win was Yale’s (8-3-1, 2-2 Ivy) second in a row.
King collected the pass from Gillies and beat the goalkeeper to the short side for the game-winner.
“[Gillies] changed the whole game,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “Within 10 minutes, she made her presence known.”
Gillies had been sidelined for the last six games with a bone bruise in her right foot. Relegated to a bench role, she watched as her teammates slipped into a midseason slump, dropping games to No. 9 University of Connecticut and No. 23 Dartmouth.
“She brings a lot of speed and adds to the dynamic up front. Most defenses cannot cope with her,” defender Jennie Garver ’03 said.
Given that the Elis have only lost one game with Gillies in the lineup, Gillies’s impact on the field is not lost on Meredith.
“She is one of the fastest on the team, if not the league,” Meredith said. “Her speed stretches out the defense and opens the field for other players. She also has a great understanding of the game and tactical awareness.”
Gillies’ return allowed Yale to revert to its traditional three-forward offense and the Elis’ domination that waned during recent contests re-emerged. Though play was fairly even for the first 28 minutes, the Bulldogs broke out with King’s goal and entered the break with a 1-0 lead.
Fairfield controlled the ball early in the second half, but forward Jamie Ortega ’06 helped shift momentum back towards the Bulldogs when she found the back of the net off midfielder Laurel Karnes’ ’06 corner at 51:34.
Just eight minutes later, the freshman tandem hooked up again. Ortega crossed the ball, which Karnes knocked inside the post to extend Yale’s lead to 3-0.
Karnes, who was named to the Ivy League Honor Roll this week, leads the Bulldogs in scoring and is the top freshman goal-scorer in the conference.
“Any time you get that kind of production from a freshman is great,” said Meredith.
The defense, led by Garver and defenders Katherine Ling ’03 and April Siuda ’06, held the Stags to two shots, completely shutting down their forwards.
Ling was named Ivy League Player of the Week for her performance in Saturday’s win over Harvard.
“Ling is very experienced,” said Meredith. “She has played in many high-level games against teams like Harvard and Princeton.”
Lindsay Sabel recorded her fifth shutout of the season.
“It was an important game defensively for us. We’ve been letting in some goals recently,” said Garver. “We did a good job. We didn’t allow the forward to get the ball in places where they could score from.”
Coming off wins at Harvard and Fairfield, the Bulldogs must continue their winning ways if they are to remain in pursuit of an NCAA tournament bid.
“We have to win the rest of our games. We have to keep up the momentum,” said Garver.
“We can’t lose,” said Meredith. “We don’t play another ranked team and in the committee’s eyes, any loss would be a bad loss.”
The Bulldogs return to the Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium for conference play when they face Pennsylvania Saturday at 4 p.m.