The Bulldogs had only a single day off after consecutive battles against the soccer giants of Tobacco Road, but still managed to knock off St. John’s Tuesday night in a gritty overtime affair.

Captain Eleni Benson ’06 came up from the backfield to put in the game’s lone goal past the Red Storm’s Rebecca Capinera just over one minute into overtime. Maggie Westfal ’09 provided the assist at 91:14 to seal the 1-0 win in Yale’s third game in the last five days.

The Elis (1-2-0) were excited about notching their first victory of the young season, despite being frustrated with an inability to mount much of an offense during regulation. Many cited fatigue as the cause of a somewhat stale offensive effort, after facing second-ranked North Carolina and 12th-ranked Duke at the Nike Carolina Classic over the weekend.

“It was ugly, but we pulled it out,” Benson said. “We are all definitely tired from the weekend.”

Coach Rudy Meredith also made sure not to discount the psychological dimension, returning to the typical crowds of a weeknight early-season game after playing in front of large numbers of spectators against the Blue Devils and Tar Heels.

“There’s a fatigue factor, but also a psychological factor — going from 3,000 to 30 people,” Meredith said. “They’re tired from flight, they had only a day off, and no chance to get to practice.”

The Bulldogs headed to Long Island to face a Red Storm squad on a two-game roll, fresh off winning the Columbia Tournament in Manhattan this weekend. Yet streaking St. John’s could hardly put together an offensive drive during much of regulation, including only one shot on goal through the entire second half. The weary Elis, who outshot their hosts 16-5, saw some chances go by during the first 90 minutes.

“We had a lot of pretty good opportunities,” Benson said. “We were having trouble getting our shots on goal. A lot of our shots ended up being pretty weak shots.”

Forward Jamie Ortega ’06 concurred, adding that the quality of play had dipped a bit from the high-intensity affairs over the weekend.

“Definitely when you’re playing against good competition, you rise to their level,” she said. “We didn’t play our best in this game, and it showed, but we got the result and that’s all that counts.”

Meredith maintained that the importance of team play is highlighted in strained situations like these, citing that it ended up being Benson, a defenseman, who booted the winning goal for the Elis.

“This was a real team effort. We clearly had trouble scoring, so the defense stepped up in scoring,” he said. “That’s what it takes to win things, and someone from back stepped up. It’s not the easiest situation to get a ‘W’ on road turf. There were not ideal circumstances, but we still found a way to get the ‘W.'”

Other impressive efforts included the performance of goalkeeper Chloe Beizer ’07, who stopped five shots to earn her first complete shutout in a Yale uniform. Meredith said the competition for starting goalie between Beizer and Susan Starr ’08 remains a dead heat. Four freshmen starte for the Bulldogs, including Westfal.

The Elis get a well deserved break from action for at least a couple of days, and will kick off their home season down at the Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium in New Haven on Friday night against Hartford.

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