Describing Saturday’s game against Princeton is best expressed in the immortal words of Yogi Berra: “It’s like deja vu all over again.”
Taking the Tigers 2-1 is no new story for the women’s soccer team. But while the Elis (4-3-1, 1-0 Ivy) muscled down Princeton (3-3-1, 0-1) by the same score as they did last year, the game play between the two match-ups was vastly different, forward Mimi Macauley ’07 said.
“Last season we had everything fall our way,” she said. “But this season, that’s not the way it has been.”
Macauley, who scored both of Yale’s goals, said that despite the adversity faced in the beginning of the season — injured key players, inability to put up multiple goals per game — the team was able to adapt to the formation changes and play with the skill that it knows it possesses.
“We know we are really capable of doing it,” said forward Emma Whitfield ’09, who assisted both goals. “Finishing everything, we were more relieved than anything.”
The Elis had planned for the potential absence of injured first-string players, and had also done some pregame scouting. The preparation showed in the Bulldogs’ success despite last-minute alterations in both the line-up and player positioning, Macauley said.
Regarding formation, the Elis played two up top instead of three, and three on the back line instead of four. Captain Christina Huang ’07, who recovered to play Saturday after pulling a quadricep earlier in the season, played midfield, a position she had never played before.
The changes in the line-up fazed neither the veterans nor the rookies. Rookie Hannah Smith ’10 was able to shut down Princeton’s powerhouse midfielder Diana Matheson.
Midfielder Emily Haddad ’07 attributed the success to a trusty defensive line and a skilled offense.
“Everyone has a lot of confidence in the three players that make up the back line,” she said. “Also, I think that we’ve been getting better and better offensively. We are getting more used to each other and learning how the new players interact with the old.”
The pieces of the puzzle seemed to come together and past competition strengthened the team through experience, the players said.
“[The game] taught us the depth of our bench,” Haddad said. “I think our coach has done a good job of involving all of the players on the team, so that when we are faced with a situation when some of the key players are injured, other people are ready and experienced and can step up to the challenge.”
Macauley said the team’s ability to work together as a whole was the key to its success Saturday. Although she scored both goals for the Elis, Macauley said the results were due to a team effort.
“I just put the ball in the net,” she said. “But I didn’t do all the work that it took to get the ball to me.”
Although Princeton is notoriously difficult within the Ivy League, most agree that they are not the toughest competitors the Bulldogs have faced this season, Whitfield said.
“The Princeton game really sets a tone,” she said. “They are always one of the top teams, and the fact that we came out and played that hard and were able to finish our chances and pull out a win, … it definitely bodes well for the future.”