For the women’s soccer team this weekend, it’s do-or-die time.
After a much-needed week of rest to recover from another winless Ivy League outing, the Bulldogs (5-5-1, 0-2 Ivy) are traveling to Hanover, N.H. to face Dartmouth (5-4-1, 0-2). Neither team has a win under its belt in Ancient Eight play and will be looking to change that.
Going into the season, this predicament would have seemed highly unlikely. Yale was picked to finish first in the Ivies and the Big Green was also expected to be a strong contender for the title. But after two winless games, the two Ivy foes are sitting at the bottom of the league rankings and are in desperate need of a first win to right the ship.
Both of Dartmouth’s Ivy losses have been 1-0 decisions — first to Brown on Sept. 28, then to Princeton on Oct. 4. The problem in both losses was an uncharacteristic inability to score a decisive goal. In both games, the Big Green dominated possession of the ball and outshot their opponents, but was simply unable to put the ball into the net. With five scorers who have scored two or more goals thus far this season, Dartmouth will continue to pressure Yale with strong offensive pressure. Big Green goalie Laurel Peak, boasting a goals against average of 0.84, will also be a strong deterrent to the Bulldog attack.
Meanwhile, head coach Rudy Meredith said the Elis will be going back to the drawing board after two Ivy losses.
“Our overall team speed is not very good and teams have been exploiting us,” Meredith said. “We might do a little more counterattacking, a little more man to man defense instead of zone. To get into more of a defensive mindset, we might play four backs instead of three.”
Besides new defensive game plans, Yale will also have to improve its offense. At the beginning of the season, the offense seemed to be clicking on all cylinders, attacking and scoring early on in games with methodical, exacting passes. But with the beginning of the Ivy season, those fast starts have disappeared into sluggish runs and errant passes.
“The Ivy League teams are scouting us very well,” Meredith said. “[They] have made major adjustments to us to exploit our weaknesses.”
In order for the Bulldogs to prevail on Saturday, they will have to take a page out of their opponents’ books and make adjustments to shore up their weaknesses and exploit those of the Big Green. Although the Elis have two losses, Meredith believes that they are not out of the Ancient Eight title race.
“We just need to win the rest of our games and see what happens,” she added. “We’re still in it — for now.”