The coach said “let there be offense,” and behold, there was offense.
Few things in life are that easy, but after coach Rudy Meredith emphasized more motion in the box and commitment to runs on offense during practice, the Elis took it to heart and netted a flurry of goals this weekend to capture the Yale Classic title.
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”12068″ ]
That spirit was clearly present in Yale’s 3-1 win over the Western Carolina Catamounts (2-4) on Friday night and even more apparent in Yale’s 3-0 victory over the Fightin’ Blue Hens of Delaware (3-2-1).
With the two crucial wins, the Elis (3-2, 0-0 Ivy) are above .500 for the first time this season.
“I’m pretty happy with things this weekend because we finally played two good halves, particularly in the Delaware game,” Meredith said. “After we jumped out [to] a good lead, our defense didn’t let them come back and we kept control for the entire 90 minutes.”
That kind of offensive and defensive dominance seemed to be missing in the Bulldogs’ past three games.
In every game this year, including the two overtime losses, Yale always had a lead before small mental lapses gave their opponents opportunities to score.
“We really just need to push through for the entire 90 minutes and not be scared that they’ll come back,” captain Emma Whitfield ’09 said.
Under a constant downpour, the Elis started their campaign for the Yale Classic title against Western Carolina on Friday night. Although rain littered the field, the Bulldogs refused to let that stifle their spirits and came out hungry for goals.
Barely 12 minutes into the game, Whitfield netted the Elis’ first goal, assisted by Maggie Westfal ’09 and Becky Brown ’11. Ten minutes later, Brown followed with two impressive goals within a minute of each other to build a 3-0 lead.
“We did a great job of putting away our chances,” Brown said.
Meredith then made major substitutions in the second half, giving more players game experience. That decision could have been costly, given the way the Bulldogs have squandered leads in the previous games.
But Friday, the bench players came on with the same fiery intensity, holding the Catamounts to just one goal with solid tackling amid slippery conditions and giving the Elis an impressive 3-1 victory.
“We have a great bench, so what we want to do is to make substitutions that don’t change the game,” Meredith said. “Today, we did that and our depth has really become a strength.”
Taking confidence from the win Friday night, Yale returned to the field on a humid Sunday afternoon looking to stay aggressive against Delaware. After winning against Sacred Heart on Friday, the Blue Hens were also riding their own wave of confidence.
Playing what Meredith called “the most complete game of the season,” the Elis aggressively ran up and down the field, displaying great team defense and orchestrating hordes of scoring opportunities. That kind of overall play led to an impressive 19-2 shot advantage and dominance in every statistical category.
As opposed to the first-half scoring frenzy Friday night, the Bulldogs’ opening 45 minutes on Sunday were tame, with Leslie Perez ’10 scoring Yale’s only goal, from the left side. Yale kept up the strong play in the second half again with a pair of goals within one minute of each other — the first by Westfal and the second by Whitfield. The defense provided the Elis with a shutout and the Yale Classic title.
At the trophy presentation, Megan Ashforth ’10 earned the Defensive MVP honor while Brown received the Offensive MVP honor.
“I’m really excited about our wins this weekend and our overall level of improvement on both sides of the ball,” Brown said. “Every time we work on something in practice, it definitely crosses over into the game.”
While the offense put up a lot of goals, Meredith was also quick to point out the defense’s impressive efforts. “Our defense has always been pretty good, save for a few mental lapses,” Meredith said. “Over the course of this weekend, our offence now has finally clicked, too. We can really take a lot away from this weekend and hopefully keep it up for the rest of the season.”