Seniors on the women’s soccer team made the most of their last home hurrah.
Captain Ali Cobbett ’03 and Chandra King ’03 both scored on Saturday to lead Yale (11-3-2, 3-2-1 Ivy) over Columbia (4-8-2, 0-4-2) in the final Bulldog homestand at the Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium, 2-1.
“The seniors will be missed a lot,” Eleni Benson ’05 said. “They rallied the team last night and the entire season. It was fitting that Ali [Cobbett] and Chandra [King] both scored, especially in such a huge game.”
Coming off a convincing 9-0 thrashing of Wagner University, the Bulldogs picked up where they left off and staked a two goal lead in the first 12 minutes.
At 5:13, Cobbett lofted a long shot from 22 yards out that sailed over the head of Lions’ goalkeeper Janine Ierardi, who had strayed too far out.
And Ierardi did not learn quickly enough. Seven minutes later, King scored on what seemed to replicate Cobbett’s goal. King is tied with Laurel Karnes ’06 for the team goal lead with 8 season scores.
“We came out on a mission,” Lindsay Sabel ’03 said. “Ali [Cobbett] finished a beautiful shot and Chandra [King] followed suit. There was a lot riding on the game, and we were able to focus all the emotions and intensity.”
The Bulldogs’ lead held up for the rest of the game, but just barely. The game had all the makings of a blowout, but as head coach Rudy Meredith had predicted, it was “a tough battle, a real tough battle.”
The Bulldogs’ backfield played a solid game but had difficulty containing Lions’ forward Brianne Pardini. The Lions’ second leading goal scorer worked hard on the wing and created many scoring chances for herself all night.
“For most of the game, it went well,” Benson said. “It was definitely one of our better efforts. [Pardini] could get around us, but we were able to stop her in the middle and keep her on the outside.”
Early in the second half, Pardini walked the ball down to the Bulldogs’ box, beat a defender to the left and blasted a shot that Sabel saved. Pardini then lobbed a shot that almost snuck under the crossbar.
But the Lions’ striker only could be denied for so long.
With 3:32 left on the clock, Columbia’s Courtney Diamond sent a long ball to Pardini, who pushed the ball past an onrushing Sarah Walker ’05 to cut the Lions’ deficit in half. Walker had replaced Sabel in goal midway through the second half.
In the game’s last minutes, the Lions provided some serious scares. They desperately pushed the tempo and threatened to take the game into overtime.
Only when Mia Arakaki ’06 cleared the ball down the sideline with seven ticks remaining could the Bulldogs sense victory.
“It was a little tough,” Sabel said. “Everyone was feeling the pressure, and Columbia played a great second half.”
For the Lions, it was their eighth one-goal loss of the season. For the Bulldogs, it was their third win in a row, edging them closer to their goal of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
“This game was huge,” Sabel said. “It was a must-win, and now we have great shot of making the tournament.”
Princeton already secured at least a share of the Ivy crown with its 2-0 victory over Cornell on Saturday.
But with Harvard’s 1-0 loss to Dartmouth this weekend, the Bulldogs will remain above the Cantabs in the Northeast regional ranking. In the most recent National Soccer Coaches Association of America regional poll released on Oct. 28, Yale placed third, right behind Dartmouth (2) and ahead of Harvard (4). The University of Connecticut was ranked first.
Dartmouth is the only team that could possibly tie Princeton for a share of the Ivy title.
The Bulldogs close out the regular season next Saturday at Brown (5-9-2, 0-5-1).
“We control our own destiny now. It’s in our own hands,” Benson said.