With two remaining games and chances of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament on the line, the women’s soccer team did not make the kind of history it wanted to Saturday afternoon against Columbia.
The Lions (6-7-3, 1-3-2 Ivy) defeated Yale (9-6-1, 2-3-1) for the first time in program history, snapping an 18-year trend that spanned 18 contests. In Manhattan, after Yale tied the game in the 86th minute on defender April Siuda’s ’06 first career goal, Columbia forward Aubrey Medal collected the ball 14 yards out and beat Yale goalkeeper Sarah Walker ’05 on a low shot.
The play began when Columbia’s Brianne Pardini directed a free kick that the Elis failed to clear. The ball came to Emma Judkins who moved it to Medal in the box, who then dealt Yale’s hopes of returning to the postseason a major blow.
“[It was] a little bit of us being a little disorganized,” Yale head coach Rudy Meredith said. “We were still trying to get organized defensively.”
After Siuda ripped a shot to the low left corner of the goal from 20 yards out at 85:07 to tie the game, the Bulldogs, who had been playing with four strikers, did not adjust to withstand the Lions’ attack.
The Eli defense gave up two goals for the first time since Oct. 13, when they won 3-2 over Colgate (11-7-1).
On Saturday, the Bulldogs were playing catchup from early on in the game.
Forward Courtney Nasshorn headed a ball over Bulldog goalie Walker to give the Lions a 1-0 lead at 15:22.
“They played a ball sort of over our defense,” Walker said. “It landed right at the top of the box. All I could really do was try and get there before she did.”
Yale played poorly throughout the first half, with Columbia out-shooting the Elis 9-4.
“We were asleep in the first half,” Meredith said. “We might as well not even played in the first half. Nobody played well.”
With a postseason bid potentially depending on the outcome, the Bulldogs woke up at halftime and played a significantly stronger second half, in which they out-shot Columbia 7-3.
“[Columbia was] really into the game. They really wanted to score [and] really wanted to win,” Walker said. “Everybody realized that [for Yale], no one was playing well at all.”
The Bulldogs put more pressure on the Lions, generating scoring opportunities, but failing to get the equalizer until Siuda’s goal with five minutes remaining.
Despite the loss to now seventh-place Columbia, Yale still has an outside chance at making the NCAA tournament if there are few upsets in conference tournaments throughout the country, Meredith said. This would make more at-large bids available.
Before any talk of the postseason, however, Yale must take care of business against Brown in the regular season finale for both teams Nov. 8 at Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium.
The Bears are in third place in the Ancient Eight and a Yale victory would cause the two teams to flip-flop in the standings.
“If [we] really want to win — we will bounce back and be ready to play on Saturday,” Meredith said.
With no mid-week game leading up to the conference battle, the Elis have a great opportunity to refocus and rest before the pivotal game.
“For one you have rest, number two you have a chance to watch some videotape, [and] you also have time to make adjustments for the other team,” Meredith said. “We can do all three this week.”
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