In 1849, English poet Thomas Babington Macaulay wrote, “The Puritan hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.” In 2006, it seems the descendants of old Elihu may have had a change of heart.
In their final game of the season this Saturday, the Bulldogs (8-7-2, 3-3-1 Ivy) tore apart the Brown Bears (9-4-4, 3-2-2), 4-2, in their own Rhode Island den, ending 2006 with a winning record for the sixth-consecutive year. Despite their frustration with the fact that they will not advance to the NCAA College Cup tournament, the Elis were pleased with a performance that goalkeeper Susan Starr ’08 said was one of their best all season.
“It was a total team effort,” she said. “Everyone stepped up and left everything they worked for on the field.”
Although Brown dominated in the first 30 minutes of play, gaining a 2-0 lead over the Bulldogs after a penalty kick in the 35th minute, Mary Kuder ’08 began the comeback when she sneaked in a 25-yard goal just seven seconds before the end of the first half.
“Mary’s goal was just what we needed,” Starr said. “After that, everything started connecting. Tackles started going our way and slowly but surely we started getting a little bit of luck.”
The path to victory was paved in the first three minutes of the second half with a goal from forward Emma Whitfield ’09 that tied the score. Whitfield, with five goals this season, led the team in that category for the 2006 campaign.
A changed lineup in the second half and a desire to end the season with a win inspired a domino effect in the offensive third that had not been seen all year. The Bulldogs showed no signs of trouble finishing on their chances, a problem that Yale head coach Rudy Meredith has said to be the team’s biggest challenge this season. Whitfield said their improved results were partly due to less pressure about the future of the season.
“We just started having more fun with the game,” she said. “It’s especially different playing now, without all the expectations of the beginning of the season.”
After Whitfield set the tone for the second half, Crysti Howser ’09 finished a cross from captain Christina Huang ’07 at 76:49, putting the Elis ahead. Shortly after, Eliza Walper ’10 scored her first career goal in the 86th minute, solidifying the Bulldogs victory. Before last week’s 4-1 win over Quinnipiac, the Elis’ highest scoring game was when they shut out CCSU with a score of 3-0.
“We’d been getting better and better, and finally it just all came together,” Howser said.
The second consecutive four-goal win for Yale shows the progress that the team has made throughout the season.
Although Starr said she feels frustrated about ending the season now that the team’s energy level has risen so high, the fact that all of the goal-scorers from Saturday’s game will return next season bodes well for the coming year.
“We hope that we can take the frustration [of this season] and translate it into making every game count next season,” she said.
Howser said she is particularly excited about the possibilities of next season because the offensive line will not be losing many players.
“We’ve got a lot of weapons returning,” she said. “It’s going to be great.”