The Game is still weeks away for football fans, but for the Yale women’s soccer team, The Game is in one day.
The Elis (5–3, 1–0 Ivy) will host the Crimson (3-5-1, 1-0 Ivy League) this Saturday when the rival women’s teams kick off the first of two Yale-Harvard soccer matches at 4:30 p.m. from Reese Stadium, before the men take the field at 7 p.m.
Yale will enter the contest riding a two-game winning streak, capped by its recent victory over last year’s co-Ivy League champion Princeton on Saturday in a 2-0 shutout. This weekend the Bulldogs face the second of the 2008 co-conference title holders in the Crimson.
“It’s the same mindset as last week,” head coach Rudy Meredith said of the upcoming game. “I mean, Harvard and Princeton were the two teams that won the league last year.”
The Eli team also continues to be plagued by health problems — a factor making Saturday’s lineup tentative at best. The team is dealing with two ankle injuries, two knee injuries and a potential case of strep throat.
“We’re still going to have to make a decision on Saturday based on who’s healthy enough to play,” Meredith said. “You could probably call our team ‘Humpty Dumpty’ right now because we fell off the wall and we’re trying to put the pieces back together.”
Yale, Harvard, Columbia and Dartmouth currently top the Ancient Eight standings with one conference win apiece. The preseason poll picked Harvard as the favorite to capture the Ivy title again this fall.
“They probably have the most all-Ivy League players returning and the most starters returning,” Meredith said. “They had a good recruiting class too.”
Meredith also called Harvard’s win-loss record deceiving, noting that the Cantabs have played a rigorous schedule against top-notch opponents like Boston College and the University of Connecticut.
Harvard leads the all-time series between the rivals with a 25-8-1 tally. Last year they beat the Bulldogs 3-1. But the Elis have taken three of the past four competitions.
All of Yale’s wins this season have also come in shutout form. The Elis have blanked five separate opponents to date.
The Bulldogs defenders are among the most experienced team members, with three seniors — captain Sophia Merrifield ’10, Caitlin Collins ’10 and Hannah Smith ’10 — leading the squad. Goalkeeper Ayana Sumiyasu ’11 completes the foursome and has blocked 35 of 39 shots faced to give her a save percentage of .897.
They will be tested on Saturday as Harvard boasts a particularly strong offensive line.
“Their offense is really good. They’ve scored in pretty much every game,” Meredith said of the Crimson. “They will be pretty tough to shut down. It would be great if we could get a shutout out of this game.”