Heading into Saturday’s game, the University of Pennsylvania’s women’s soccer team had lost all three games in which sniper forward Katy Cross had not scored, a statistic the Bulldogs focused on in preparation for the game.
The Elis (8-5-1, 2-2-1 Ivy) executed their game plan against the Quakers (6-5-3, 1-3-1), shutting out the potent Pennsylvania offense en route to a 1-0 victory in Philadelphia. The win was Yale’s third in a row and second consecutive conference victory.
“Our defense did a great job shutting [Cross] down,” Yale head coach Rudy Meredith said. “[Penn head coach Darren Ambrose] took her off the field because she was so ineffective.”
Yale defender Lindsay Demaree ’05, who played Saturday despite an aggravated knee injury, shadowed Cross throughout the game, keeping the Quaker star off of the score sheet.
After achieving offensive success with three forwards up front in a 2-1 overtime victory against Cornell (7-4-2, 1-3-1) on Oct. 18, Meredith went with the same formation against the Quakers, leaving one less defender back.
“We went with three up top and our defense was doing a good job marking out Katy Cross,” Meredith said.
At 28:24, Eli defender Christina Huang ’07 fed forward Mimi Macauley ’07, who beat Quaker goalkeeper Vanessa Scotto for what proved to be the game winner.
“Christina Huang played a through ball to me and it deflected off one of the defenders and a lot of [Pennsylvania players] thought it was offsides,” Macauley said. “I just shot it. It wasn’t a very pretty goal.”
The goal was Macauley’s third of the season, tying her for second on the team in goals with forward Jamie Ortega ’06. Two of her three goals have been game-winners.
“[Having three forwards] just put so much more pressure on their backs,” Macauley said. “They had a lot of trouble getting out of [their end].”
Macauley’s goal helped to diversify the Elis’ scoring attack, which has midfielder Laurel Karnes ’06 has led for most of the season.
“Some of the freshmen have really stepped up,” captain Lee Anne Jasper ’04 said. “It definitely helps to have a more dynamic attack.”
Despite having three forwards, Yale was still able to slow down Cross and the Quaker attack in a first half that saw little offensive action with the Bulldogs out-shooting Penn 2-1.
In the second half, Mother Nature and Pennsylvania’s change in formation prompted a Quaker offensive onslaught that silenced the Yale offense.
A strong wind kicked up towards the Bulldog goal, making clearing extremely difficult, Meredith said.
The Quakers out-shot Yale 8-0 in the final 45 minutes of the game, but goalkeeper Sarah Walker ’05 worked hard for her shutout — her sixth of the season — making six of her seven saves in the final frame.
Pennsylvania’s best opportunity to score came with 10 minutes left in the game, when Quaker forward Rachelle Snyder ripped a shot off of the crossbar.
Snyder and the Quaker offense took advantage of a back injury that forced Huang out of the game.
“It’s just been a minor problem [Huang has] been dealing with, but it shouldn’t affect her playing [in upcoming games],” Jasper said.
The Bulldogs entered the game banged up, but were still able to pull off the win.
“It was a good, gutsy performance,” Meredith said. “I was proud of the way they hung on to this game.”
Most importantly, the victory showed that Yale can simultaneously play three forwards and shut down opposing offenses.
“We know that we can play this formation and still be able to shut teams down,” Meredith said. “We’ll probably continue it the rest of the season.”
The Bulldogs return to the friendly confines of the Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium to face Fairfield University (7-7-1) on Wednesday night.
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