The women’s soccer team broke this season’s road curse with a win in New Britain, Conn., yesterday.
The Bulldogs (3-4, 0-0 Ivy) notched their second consecutive shutout as they snuck past Central Connecticut State University (2-5-1), 1-0. The win also snapped the Elis’ four-game winless streak outside the confines of Reese Stadium and put the squad back on the path to a winning season, a feat the Bulldogs have accomplished for the last six straight years.
“I don’t think it was our best game, but we were happy to get a win and to get a shutout,” defender Sophia Merrifield ’10 said. “The formation that they played caused us a little trouble because we had to adjust to it, but I think that we were pretty confident and we played hard.”
Despite combining for a total of 32 shots, neither squad was able to have much offensive success yesterday. Forward Maggie Westfal ’09 tallied a goal in the 30th minute of the first half off a through ball from midfielder Natalia Mann ’09, and that goal would turn out to be enough for the Bulldogs to get a win. Blue Devil goalie Caity Casey finished the day with seven saves, thwarting several solid Eli attempts on goal.
“We had a couple chances to make the game 2-0, but because we never did that we made the game a struggle in the second half,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “[Casey] had a good game, but we also missed a lot of chances. We needed to make her work a little harder.”
The Bulldog defense had a few early scares when CCSU’s Clio Tregear and Rachel Caneen combined for three shots on goal in the opening minutes, but two of their attempts sailed wide and goalkeeper Susan Starr ’08 made the save on the third. The Elis felt pressure from the Blue Devils again later in the second half, but once again a save by Ayana Sumiyasu ’11 and a few lucky breaks helped keep CCSU off the board.
“If we haven’t scored enough to put them away, then we’re still fighting to keep them off the board, which is a whole different type of pressure,” captain Mary Kuder ’08 said. “A win is a win, but it makes the game much easier when we put more shots away early on.”
The Eli defense — anchored by Kuder, Merrfield, Hayley Zevenbergen ’09 and Hannah Smith ’10 — certainly deserves credit for keeping its composure during several shaky moments yesterday. Merrifield said that the unit has been communicating well recently, particularly after facing some of the best forwards in the nation earlier this month in Portland and North Carolina.
The Bulldogs’ next test will come on Tuesday, when they face Boston University (3-4-1) at Reese Stadium. The Terriers are ranked eighth in the Northeast and topped the Elis 2-1 in an overtime heartbreaker on the same day last year. The two squads have presented similar styles of play so far this season, which should make it a tough game, Meredith said.
“Both teams are very similar,” he said. “Both teams are pretty good in the back and both teams are having trouble scoring goals, so it’s going to be a dead even game.”
With any luck, the home field advantage will give the Bulldogs a boost, since the squad is undefeated at Reese Stadium this year. And as they gear up for Ivy League competition, which begins when the Elis host Harvard on Saturday night, a win would help the squad maintain its momentum and open Ivy League play on the right foot.
“It’s a big week for us, with three games in seven days,” Kuder said. “It will say a lot about our future. [BU] would be a big win for us.”