Women’s soccer head coach Rudy Meredith was not exaggerating when he said this year’s seniors are special.

Captain Ali Cobbett ’03, forward Chandra King ’03 and defender Jennie Garver ’03 were named to the Ivy League First Team last week. With three selections, Yale had the largest representation of any Ivy school on the 11-member team.

Eleni Benson ’05, Laurel Karnes ’06 and Jamie Ortega ’06 received All-Ivy honorable mentions honors, as well.

Though distributed as individual distinctions, Yale’s First Team selections show the collective strength of the senior class.

“[The seniors] were all amazing,” Karnes said. “They took control of the team at the very beginning. They had all the characteristics of good leaders.”

Lauren Gillies ’03, Liz Jarchow ’03, Katherine Ling ’03 and Lindsay Sabel ’03 rounded out the strong senior class. Yale had just one junior on its roster this autumn.

Cobbett, also a first team selection in 2001, led the team in assists this year. Center midfielder could not be a more fitting position for the “field general.”

“Ali [Cobbett], at midfield, always did something good with the ball,” Karnes said. “She made things happen.”

Stringing together passes and spoiling breakaways, Cobbett was a cornerstone at both ends of the fields. Due to injuries last year, she was relegated to a strictly scoring role. But with the team healthy, Cobbett settled back into the midfield this year.

“[Cobbett] is more comfortable at midfield,” Meredith said. “She is a playmaker and linked up the defense to the offense.”

Meredith credits this year’s magical run, highlighted by the team’s first NCAA tournament appearance in its 25-year history, to the seniors, particularly Cobbett.

“We did so well because of senior leadership,” Meredith said. “A good, quality leader leads by example, and Ali [Cobbett] does that magnificently.”

Cobbett’s leadership shone on Friday against nationally ranked No. 20 Villanova in the first round of the collegiate championship. After regulation and two 10-minute overtimes, the score remained tied 0-0, sending the game to penalty kicks. Cobbett was the team’s first shooter.

“I wanted to go first and get it over with,” she said.

And leading by example as she had all year, Cobbett blasted the ball well out of reach of the Wildcats’ goalkeeper into the right corner of the net. Yale went on to upset Villanova in penalty kicks, 4-2. Officially, the final score was 1-0.

“She is very, very, very special,” Meredith said. “I’ll never coach another player like her.”

Cobbett recently was selected to the Verizon Academic All-District Second Team.

And all season long, if Cobbett started the scoring, King finished it.

King, who tied Karnes for third in the conference for scoring, is third all-time at Yale with 75 points.

Throughout her career, King earned a reputation as a major scoring threat. This year, she led the Ivy League in shots and shots per game. Brilliant at beating defenders off the ball, she left countless backfields frustrated and exhausted.

“Over the last three years, Chandra [King] has been the most dangerous player in the Ivy League,” Meredith said. “She has created so many opportunities for herself. No one has been able to stop her but herself.”

One of her finest performances was against Villanova. Though King did not score, she worked hard on the wings, creating space and scoring opportunities for herself all night.

Garver, the unsung hero of the team, started every game since her freshman year. As the defense’s anchor, she shut down opposing offenses.

“Garver brings so much experience,” Meredith said. “She maximizes her talent. What she lacks in speed, she makes up in anticipation and heart.”

Garver also graced the Verizon Academic All-District First Team.

With a sophomore and a freshman at her flanks, she headed a young, yet rock-solid defense.

“We couldn’t have gotten as far as we did without Garver,” Lee Ann Jasper ’04 said. “She came up with so many big stops.”

Jasper, who is the lone junior on the team, has the daunting task of following in the footsteps of Garver, Cobbett, King and the rest of the seniors.

“They definitely set a hard precedent,” Jasper said. “But we’re a very cohesive team, and I hope I’ll be able to get the job done.”

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