When the women’s soccer team takes the field against Brown Friday evening, they will be fighting for more than Ivy pride. The Bulldogs will be playing for a shot at an NCAA playoff berth.
Although no kind of winning record guarantees an NCAA berth, a win Friday would essentially assure the Bulldogs of a spot in the postseason.
“It’s a must-win,” women’s soccer head coach Rudy Meredith said. “If we win, we’ll be OK. If we lose, it’s a toss up. The one thing going for us is that we don’t have bad losses this season.”
Yale (11-3-2, 3-2-1 Ivy) will try to move off the bubble when it takes on Brown (5-9-2, 0-5-1 Ivy), Friday in Providence, R.I.
The Bulldogs’ three losses this year have been to No. 9 Connecticut, No. 23 Dartmouth and Princeton, who have all spent time in the top 20 this season. Because Brown has never spent any time at the top of the polls, a loss to the Bears would significantly hurt the Elis’ postseason chances.
Yale rides a six-game unbeaten streak into this weekend, bested in the league only by Dartmouth. And with strong performances against Wagner and Columbia last week, the Elis received votes in the national polls this week.
Though they are the overwhelming favorites on paper, the Bulldogs have beaten the Bears only once before at Providence.
“It’s dangerous to play there,” Meredith said. “They get pumped up at home.”
Two years ago at Providence, Yale held a 2-0 lead with five minutes remaining in regulation, and the Bears mounted a comeback to defeat the Elis, 3-2.
But the Bulldogs have proved that their past results have no control over them this year, earning their first win ever at Cornell this fall. This evening the Elis will find out if they can maintain their momentum.
“We just can’t make any mistakes in the backfield,” Meredith said. “Brown has lost a lot one-goal games. We can’t give up any bad goals. I think we’ll be able to score.”
Yale should not have any problems finding the back of the net Friday.
The Elis, who lead the Ivy League in shots, points and goals, arguably feature the most prolific scoring front in the conference.
“We have so many options and so much balance,” Meredith said. “We get contributions from all classes. We have great senior leadership and the freshmen have really stepped its up.”
Laurel Karnes ’06, who is making a good case for conference Rookie of the Year, and Chandra King ’03 are tied for the team lead in scoring and points. Both Karnes and King were named to the Ivy League Weekly Honor Roll Tuesday. This evening, Karnes and King will have to put forward their best efforts yet if the Elis are to preserve their postseason hopes.