The women’s soccer team opened up its season with a flurry of goal-scoring and suffocating defense on its way to two victories over the weekend.

In their season-opener on Friday, away at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the Bulldogs defeated the Minutemen for the first time in the history of Yale’s program. The Elis followed that 4-1 victory with a 3-0 shutout of Manhattan College in the home-opener Sunday at Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium.

“This is a great first win for us,” head coach Rudy Meredith said after Friday’s game. “Hopefully we can build on it. It’s very nice to beat UMass for the first time in school history.”

The Elis took that momentum into the shutout against Manhattan. Yale dominated the Jaspers from the opening minutes, keeping the ball almost exclusively in the Manhattan end. In the first half alone the Bulldogs took 13 shots on goal, including three in the first seven minutes of the game, while holding the Jaspers to just one shot during the entire first half.

But after the first 45 minutes, the scoreboard still read zero all, as the Elis failed to convert on any of their chances. Yale finally found net in the 53rd minute — the eighth minute of the second half — when forward Mimi Macauley ’07 slid the ball into the right corner on a free kick just outside the Jasper penalty box.

“Eventually, if you keep taking shots, one will go in,” midfielder Laurel Karnes ’06 said. “We never let up.”

Meredith had his own explanation for the Elis’ inability to finish in the first half, saying he believed the team might have been a bit tired after playing UMass only two days before.

“We were a little sluggish at the start but that was probably because we played on Friday,” Meredith said. “It’s nice to get a shutout, and if we can continue to score three or four goals a game, we should be fine.”

The Bulldogs scored again in the 62nd minute when Karnes broke away from her defender in front of the Manhattan goal and drove the ball into the right side. The third and final goal came in the 79th minute when forward Stefanie Delvecchio ’08 made her first career goal with a pretty shot into the upper right side of the Manhattan net. The Jasper offensive threat was scarce throughout the 90 minutes of regulation play. The Bulldogs out-shot Manhattan 29-3 for the game.

In Friday’s victory over the Minutemen, midfielder Lindsey Weening ’06, who had only one goal entering this season, scored twice. Midfielder Eleni Benson ’06 and forward Jamie Ortega ’06 notched one apiece. It was Benson’s first goal since taking a year off to represent the Greek women’s soccer team in the Olympics.

“We are combining with each other a lot better,” captain and goalie Sarah Walker ’05 said.

The victory over the Minutemen was particularly sweet as UMass had outscored Yale 33-1 in the teams’ last 10 meetings.

The seven Eli goals in the first two games of the season equal a total that the Bulldogs did not reach until their fifth game last season. Meredith said the offensive onslaught is in part due to the new formation, in which the Elis put more players at midfield and forward, but also due to the experienced core of starters.

“Most [starters] have been here since last year,” Meredith said. “Eleven of 12 starters played in the spring together.”

Yale is back in action at home on Tuesday against Sacred Heart University, who the Bulldogs beat 3-2 last season on a Karnes goal in the final 30 seconds of regulation.

[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”17519″ ]