Still riding high off its thrilling 2-1 victory over Princeton last weekend, the women’s soccer team hoped it could carry the momentum straight back to friendly New Haven for Saturday’s matchup with Harvard.
But before they could entertain any grand visions of putting down their other Big Three foe in back-to-back weekends, the weary Elis had to take on Fairfield last night.
The Bulldogs (8-2, 1-0 Ivy) could only manage a single goal in the 1-0 win — the eighth straight for the Elis — but it was enough on the road against a scrappy yet offensively hapless Fairfield squad. While the Stags are nowhere near the soccer elite where Yale now finds itself, the Bulldogs made it clear that this in-state battle was not to be taken lightly.
“We knew this would going to be tough,” Yale head coach Rudy Meredith said. “They’re a well-coached defensive team. They haven’t given up more than a goal on many occasions this season.”
Besides the daunting potential for a letdown after beating Princeton, the Bulldogs also came into Fairfield still drained from their weekend journey to New Jersey. They have had more than their fair share of away games, playing eight of their first 11 away from New Haven, not to mention the bevy of weeknight games that were scheduled in September.
“It was tough-going into Fairfield tonight,” captain Eleni Benson ’06 said. “We knew this one was going to be a struggle, with classes, with the emotional and physical factors after playing Princeton three days ago.”
Defender Christina Huang ’07 said that some of the players were a little frazzled after failing to get a goal in the first half.
“From the start, it was a pretty tough game getting balls into the net,” Huang said. “Some of us were a little frantic going into halftime after we didn’t score in the first half, but Rudy told us to calm down and stay focused.”
By the final score, it may seem that last night’s matchup was a tight affair, but the Elis held the momentum for almost all 90 minutes. Mechanically, the team came into its own, especially in the second half, holding a large advantages in terms of possession, ball control, and shots on goal.
“It would have been nice to get a few more, to give us more than just a one-goal pad,” Benson said. “But still, we had really good possession. We were passing the ball around really well, and had some nice sequences where we would seem to have control of the ball for minutes at a time. It looked really sound, really nice from the back.”
The sole goal of the night came in the 67th minute, when midfielder Laurel Karnes ’06 headed in a cross from Maggie Westfal ’09. Karnes, who stands at sixth in all-time scoring for Yale, notched her third goal of the season. The Bulldogs outshot the Stags 15-5.
For the second time this season, Chloe Beizer ’07 took full responsibilities in goal last night, instead of splitting time with Susan Starr ’08. Meredith said that Starr was sick, and that both goalies will get playing time this weekend against Harvard. Starr joined a number of key Bulldogs on the bench tonight, including Hayley Zevenbergen ’09, Crysti Howser ’09 and Jamie Ortega ’06, who started but was quickly lifted because of illness. All are expected to play on Saturday.
With the victory, the Elis have been unbeaten since Sept. 4 and have held their opponents to only four goals in their first 10 games this season. Today brings a well deserved day off for the team before the focus shifts to the Crimson.
“We have no practice Wednesday, but then we’ll start thinking about Harvard,” Huang said. “We can’t stress out the whole week.”
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