Nobody watches soccer for the defense, which is fortunate, because Sacred Heart didn’t seem to have too much of it last night. With an outburst of goals, the Bulldogs improved their record to 4-2 (0-0 Ivy) with a commanding 6-0 victory against Sacred Heart (0-7).
The Elis started last night’s game in a fashion similar to that of their recent wins — firing on all cylinders. And while the offense stole the spotlight, the defense left Sacred Heart running around like chickens with their heads cut off. The Eli defenders came out with intensity and hustled all over the pitch to beat Sacred Heart attackers to the ball. That type of relentless defense held Sacred Heart to only three shots in each half.
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Meanwhile, Sacred Heart was unable to stop the Yale attack. The Sacred Heart defense seemed rooted in a reactionary offside trap, attempting to stop Yale from making the types of offensive runs that head coach Rudy Meredith has been emphasizing of late. Each time a Yale attacker advanced upfield, Sacred Heart defenders would collapse on the ball, leaving gaping holes to reward Yale’s patience.
“Coach really prepared us for the game well — everything that he said they’d do, they did,” said Enma Mullo ’12. “Once we got used to the pressure and the offside traps, we’d just hold the ball for an extra second longer to throw them off.”
Indeed, that kind of adaptability was clearly on display in Yale’s first goal of the game. The scoring chance was set up when Natalia Mann ’09 received the ball around midfield. Instead of making a pass immediately, she let the pressure come to her before making a quick juke to lose her defender. From there, the offside trap defense of Sacred Heart was completely discombobulated. A couple of well-placed through balls later, Yale was up 1-0 courtesy of a close strike from Maggie Westfal ’09.
And Westfal wasn’t done. After taking a corner that deflected off the Sacred Heart keeper for a second goal, Westfal continued to torment the Pioneers’ defense. By the 27th minute of the first half, Westfal managed to get her first career hat trick, thanks to crisp passes from Becky Brown ’11 and Leslie Perez ’10.
“Although I was really excited to score three goals, it was more exciting to see how our entire team was part of each one and how our offense continues to develop game by game,” Westfal said.
Emma Whitfield ’09 then added another goal one minute after Westfal’s third to give the Bulldogs a 4-0 lead at halftime.
The second half brought more of the same. In preparation for the team’s California swing this weekend, Meredith rested the starters and gave more playing time to the bench players. The depth of Yale’s team was readily apparent as a pair of talented freshmen, Mullo and Miyuki Hino ’12, netted the first goals of their Yale careers.
“Our bench really did a great job of stepping in and picking up the flow of the game,” Mullo said.
Looking ahead, the pair of games against Santa Clara (3-4) and No. 6 Stanford (6-0-1) this weekend will test the mettle of this promising Yale team.
“It’s good that we did well tonight,” Meredith said. “We [had] to get our kinks out tonight because against Santa Clara and Stanford, the previous mistakes that we made just aren’t gonna cut it.”