It is ironic that Saturday was Youth Soccer Day at Ohiri Field, because Yale’s handy destruction of the Harvard defense was certainly no child’s play.
This weekend, the Bulldogs (5-4-1, 2-0 Ivy) shut out the Harvard Crimson (1-8-1, 1-1), 1-0, on the Crimson’s home turf. With leading goal-scorer forward Mimi Macauley ’07 out with a sprained ankle, rookie Andrea Bouchard ’10 stepped up to score the lone goal for the Bulldogs in the 38th minute of play off an assist from Crysti Howser ’09. The win bolsters the Elis’ recent record of success against the Crimson, which now stands at 3-1-1 over the last five years.
Although the game began with what forward Emma Whitfield ’09 called a “rocky start,” intense hustle and a positive attitude on the field led to a well-deserved victory for the Elis.
“We put in a little more effort [than Harvard],” she said. “I think a main point was that we had no bickering on the field and we made an effort to be positive during the game.”
Whitfield said the Bulldogs were given the upper hand when the unsettled Crimson ranks lost their on-field composure, devolving into conspicuous argument following Bouchard’s goal.
“That kind of thing doesn’t help anyone,” she said.
Although they were given additional chances to score, the Elis, who have struggled with making good on their chances throughout the season, were unable to finish another time.
“We’ve been working on finishing goals in practice, and we’ll still need to do that,” Macauley said. “But the goal we did have was absolutely phenomenal in terms of the combination that led to it.”
The team did an exceptional job maintaining possession and putting together combinations throughout the game, Macauley said. Both Whitfield and Macauley said there is still more work to be done in terms of individual skill improvement, but team members have become much more aware of what needs to be done in practice.
“Watching the BU game last week made us all a little more coherent about what we individually needed to work on,” Whitfield said.
Midfielder Emily Haddad ’07 said that because the Bulldogs are playing well and have no major problems to speak of, they will continue to practice finishing on goal-scoring opportunities.
“Our style of play is geared toward passing around inside the 18, and that’s why we’ve been able to win lately,” Haddad said. “We’ve been working on strength in combining in the final third and capitalizing on our chances. And that’s still what we are going to have to focus on.”
Although besting the Crimson is not an unusual feat for the Elis, Saturday’s victory was important. It has primed the Bulldogs for a run at the top spot in the Ivy League.
Team members said the next big Ivy hurdle is Dartmouth (6-3-1, 2-0), which is tied with Yale in the Ancient Eight. While Harvard is always the biggest rivalry, Whitfield said Dartmouth and Princeton consistently put up a challenge.
After a much-deserved two-day break, the Bulldogs will hit the field again when they host Fairfield on Wednesday.