A .500 conference record, pride, and any hopes of a postseason berth are resting on the women’s soccer team’s game against Brown University on Friday night.
The Elis (9-6-1, 2-3-1 Ivy) host the Bears (9-4-2, 3-3-0) in the season finale for both teams. A Yale win would boost the Bulldogs in the conference standings from fourth to third. More importantly, a victory would bolster Yale’s case for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament despite last week’s loss to the Ivy cellar-dweller Columbia.
“The large force [motivating the team] is trying to get an at-large bid [to the NCAA tournament] and we don’t want this to be our last game,” captain Lee Anne Jasper ’04 said.
Last year, the Bulldogs made their first appearance in the postseason tournament, punching their ticket with a 12-5-2 record. The Elis went 3-3-1 in the Ancient Eight, a mark they can match tomorrow with a win over the Bears.
In order to win, Yale must rebound from a disappointing 2-1 loss to Columbia (6-7-3, 1-3-2) on Nov. 1, the Elis’ first loss to the Lions in school history.
Every Eli came out flat in the game against Columbia. But Jasper said Yale will use its disappointment for motivation.
Despite the loss, practices this week have been upbeat.
“[Practices have been] very positive,” Jasper said. “The intensity level this week has been really high. Everyone just can’t wait to get on the field.”
The Bears are trying to bounce back from a tough 2-1 loss to the University of Pennsylvania (8-5-3, 2-3-1) on Nov. 1. Brown comes into this Saturday’s game with its own aspirations of reaching the postseason.
Both teams enter the contest with a full week of rest in between games.
“[The full week of rest] definitely allows us to focus our entire week of practice on Brown and how they play,” goalkeeper Sarah Walker ’05 said.
Brown plays several formations which allow them to adjust to the strategy of their opponent better than most teams.
“[Brown tries] to adapt to the other team, which is hard to prepare for,” Jasper said.
The Bears boast a potent and diversified attack, with seven players having scored at least two goals. Their 10 goals scored in conference play are good for third in the Ivies, while the Elis have only scored six goals in as many games.
Despite offensive success, Brown has proved vulnerable on defense, allowing 12 goals, which ties them with Columbia for the most goals allowed in the Ancient Eight.
Bears goalie Sarah Gervais will have to continue to weather the storm as she has all season, leading the Ivy League in saves and saves per game with 78 and 6 respectively.
The deciding factor will be whether the Elis can find their scoring touch.
Midfielder Laurel Karnes ’06 leads the Yale scoring attack with nine goals and three assists for 21 points.
The Elis had switched to a more offensive formation with three forwards of late, but they might not start the game in that set.
“It’s always good to start conservative,” Jasper said. “If were not having any trouble defensively we’ll probably push a forward up.”
Strategy aside, with the Nov. 1 loss still fresh in their minds, the Elis should have no problem getting ready for a battle.
“We will bounce back and be ready to play [tomorrow],” head coach Rudy Meredith said.