In a conference as competitive as the Ivy League should be this season, there will be no easy games for the Yale women’s soccer team.
As their Ancient Eight schedule gets underway, the Elis (6-4, 1-0 Ivy) will host Dartmouth (2-7, 0-1) in a crucial match tomorrow night. Both sides have a lot at stake, as the Bulldogs are looking to extend their recent winning streak to six, and the Big Green are still waiting for their first Ivy win.
“It’s going to be another battle,” midfielder Kate Macauley ’11 said. “We’re going to have to come out and play our best.”
Both squads are coming off tough Ivy League openers last weekend, although with different outcomes — the Bulldogs defeated rival Harvard in overtime, while the Big Green dropped a close game to Princeton on the road. Although its record might imply otherwise, Dartmouth, which finished second in the league last season, has the potential to be one of the top teams in the conference again this year.
“Dartmouth is going to be a very strong team,” captain Mary Kuder ’08 said. “Every game in the Ivy League is such a battle.”
When the two squads met last year in Hanover, N.H., the Bulldogs dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker to the Big Green. Coming into the match, the Elis had won five of their previous six games, but the Dartmouth defeat propelled the squad into a downward spiral — Yale lost or tied its next three games, only recovering for their last two games. Kuder said this weekend is crucial for the Bulldogs’ success as they look to avoid last season’s pitfalls and improve on their fourth-place Ancient Eight finish.
If the competition in the Ivy League is going to be as close as the opening weekend results suggest, there will be no chance for the Bulldogs to rest as they head down the stretch. Last weekend, all four conference matchups were decided by a single goal, and Dartmouth’s battle against Princeton was one of the most hard fought. Trailing 2-0 with under three minutes remaining, the Big Green finally scored at 87:37, but they could not find the equalizer to send the game into overtime.
But the Bulldogs also have the momentum of a five-game winning streak behind them, having won every game since they faced then-No. 4 Portland (6-3) on Sept. 16. This past week, the Elis defeated both historic rival Harvard and crosstown rival Quinnipiac at Reese Stadium.
The Bulldogs fought hard to secure both victories, which came by 2-1 margins. Maggie Westfal ’09 helped the Elis to an overtime win against the Crimson on Saturday, and Macauley scored her first career goals in dramatic fashion to lead the Bulldogs to victory over the Bobcats. Yale will need big contributions from players like Westfal and Macauley to penetrate the Dartmouth defense tomorrow.
The physical nature of Wednesday’s game against Quinnipiac — which head coach Rudy Meredith said featured the best Bobcat squad he has seen — should also be good preparation for this weekend’s game.
“Dartmouth is going to be more of a physical game,” Kuder said. “[Quinnipiac] is a good game to be coming off of.”
The Elis will kickoff at 7 p.m. tomorrow under the lights at Reese Stadium.