Playing against the University of Connecticut, Bulldog goalkeeper Ayana Sumiyasu ’11 was golden, but the women’s soccer team could not put a goal away to win the game on Sunday.
While Yale (3–3) fell to UConn (6–2) 1–0 in Sunday afternoon’s away match, Sumiyasu made 15 saves during her 90 minutes of play to keep the Bulldogs competitive throughout the game.
“She played solidly,” head coach Rudy Meredith said of his goalie. “It was one of her better games here, and of her Yale career.”
Yet the numbers UConn tallied this year on Sunday certainly appeared daunting. The Huskies racked up 36 shots during the game, outnumbering Yale 21–1 in the first half alone. But not all of those shots proved threatening for the Bulldogs.
“The thing with their shots is that they were counting everything — even a half-shot,” midfielder Kate Macauley ’11 said. “It wasn’t as lopsided as it looked.”
Meredith also noted that many of UConn’s shots fell far from scoring.
“A lot of their shots were from far out, so they mostly were not what I would consider dangerous opportunities,” he said.
But those attempts were enough to keep Yale playing defensively for most of the match. UConn had four corner kicks and tested Sumiyasu six times during the first 45 minutes.
Forward Becky Brown ’11 got off Yale’s only shot of the first half in the 27th minute of play, but her ball went wide of the net.
“I’d say Connecticut is definitely a good team, but we played very well I thought,” Sumiyasu said. “We definitely went into the game knowing that they would be a threat offensively.”
Both teams kept up their momentum after halftime, vying to take control of the scoreless game. Defender and captain Sophia Merrifield ’10 notched Yale’s first shot-on-goal nine minutes into the second period, but a quick counterattack by the Huskies forced Sumiyasu to make two more saves.
Forward Leslie Perez ’10 had another attempt on net for Yale in the 65th minute but saw her shot blocked. And despite Bulldog efforts, UConn’s pressure was unrelenting.
Two minutes later — and on their 11th attempt of the second half — the Huskies finally found an opening when UConn’s Melissa Busque bested Yale in a one-on-one defensive contest and attacked from the right. Sumiyasu made the save but was unable to block a quick rebound by Busque that found the back of the net.
“Their goal kind of broke free, and she took the shot from inside the box, and I made the save,” Sumiyasu said. “It was tough. I usually try to focus on the first save, but she put it back in the box, and that’s what matters.”
Down by one, Yale regrouped and shifted to a new tactical formation — from a 4–3–3 lineup to a 3–4–3 position — for the remainder of the match. The results were immediate, as the Bulldogs recorded seven more shots during that last window of play.
Yale fired off a series of five shots with just three minutes left. A counterattack and some back-and-forth passing brought forward Kristen Forster ’13 close to scoring, but Husky goalkeeper Jessica Dulski blocked the air shot and recorded her second save of the day.
Even though his squad failed to score, Meredith still found those last few minutes extremely heartening.
“In the last seven minutes we made a tactical change and almost tied the game … If we had kept playing like that, we probably could have tied it with a little more time,” Meredith said, adding that Yale’s ability to switch to a late-game offensive mode bodes well for future competitions.
The Bulldogs return to Reese Stadium to face off against another intrastate rival — Quinnipiac — on Sept. 22. Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m.