The women of Eli soccer were at a loss for words and goals after Saturday’s 1-0 loss to rival Harvard at Ohiri Field in Cambridge.
For the Bulldogs (5-4-0, 0-2-0 Ivy) , it was their fourth straight loss and fourth consecutive game without scoring a single goal. For the Crimson (3-4-2, 1-1-0 Ivy) , the victory was a much needed boost for a team that had itself struggled to score goals coming into Saturday’s action.
Both teams came into the contest with 0-1 Ivy records, and looking to remain competitive in the Ancient Eight. In the first half, both teams created scoring chances, with the Crimson outshooting the Bulldogs 14-9. But unlike the Elis, one of those Crimson shots was good for a goal.
In the 31st minute Harvard midfielder Alisha Moran took a cross from defender Liza Barber at the top of the box and drilled the ball into the upper right corner of the net.
Eli captain and goalkeeper Sarah Walker ’05 had a season-high 12 saves on the day, including several point-blank stops. But her efforts proved fruitless as Harvard goalie Katie Shields had eight saves and no goals allowed on the opposite end of the field. The Crimson outshot the Bulldogs 24-14 on the day .
“Both teams created chances, both goalkeepers played very well, we finished one,” Harvard head coach Tim Wheaton said. “It certainly was one of those games that could have gone either way.”
Yale head coach Rudy Meredith praised his goalkeeper while expressing frustration over the Elis’ inability to score goals.
“It was definitely a situation where the goalkeepers made the difference in the game,” Meredith said. “Sarah [Walker] played out of her mind again. We have to have other players step it up on the field, that’s the bottom line. You can have all the saves in the world, but you have to step up and score.”
Scoring woes are not new to this Yale squad, which struggled all of last season to put the ball in the net against Ivy opponents. But Meredith came into this season with a new formation designed to put more Elis on the offensive and create more scoring opportunities.
The new formation appeared to be working in the first five games of the season as the Bulldogs started 5-0, the best opening record in the history of the program. In that run of five consecutive victories the Elis outscored their opponents 12-1.
But the Elis have been unable to find the net of late. In their four consecutive losses the Elis have been outscored 7-0. Midfielder Christina Huang ’07 said she and her fellow midfielders were to blame for Saturday’s loss.
“The midfielders take responsibility for the loss,” Huang said. “We didn’t play very well at all. I had a few open shots that I should have made. I wasn’t mentally there.”
Huang said the Elis did not control the ball well either, and they drove the ball too far upfield when they should have moved it to the outside.
“We had some trouble combining, [passing] and settling the ball,” Huang said. “Instead of shooting it out [to the wings], we kicked it up instead. It was a little frustrating, we all know we could have done better.”
The sophomore said the inability to score a single goal in four games may be weighing on the team mentally. The Elis hope to end their offensive drought against Quinnipiac tonight at the Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium.
The Bulldogs easily handled Quinnipiac last season in a 3-0 victory Oct. 8 in New Haven. Huang hopes the Elis can duplicate last season’s performance on Tuesday and break out of the scoring doldrums.
“You can feel it, you feel like, ‘Well, are we going to win a game?'” Huang said. “We can’t keep losing. Hopefully the Quinnipiac game will be an ego-booster. I think we all just need to change. We don’t have a losing attitude, but we can’t be content with losing. It’s hard when we don’t have much scoring power.”
Meredith said that despite the loss on Saturday, he saw his team play with the same intensity it had in its first five games. In addition, Meredith said this four game stretch has been against the toughest opponents on the Eli schedule.
Still, Meredith said he is cautious entering tonight’s game against a Quinnipiac team whose focus is on its own backfield.
“They’re a defensive minded team,” Meredith said. “So we have to be careful that we don’t get sloppy defensively because they lull you to sleep. They catch a goal on you because you’re not paying attention in the back.”
Meredith went on to say it is important for the Elis to score in the first half, as they did in their first five victories.
“We are going to have chances, but we have to put them away in the first half,” Meredith said. “All the games we’ve lost, we haven’t scored in the first half, or at all. When we score in the first half, the team gets in a rhythm, relaxed. We haven’t had that emotional lift from scoring a goal in the first half the last four games.”