When the pressure was on, Kristen Forster ’13 was able to execute.
The Eli forward struck just two minutes and seven seconds into overtime Saturday night, sending a feed from midfielder Kate Macauley ’11 into the net to clinch the Yale women’s soccer team’s 2–1 win over Cornell (1–10–1, –-4 Ivy) at Reese Stadium.
The victory kept Yale in contention for the Ivy League title, as the Bulldogs (8–4–0, 3–0) remain tied with Harvard (3–0) for first place in the conference standings.
“I give my kids a lot of credit,” head coach Rudy Meredith said of the overtime win. “They kept fighting and fighting, and we turned the tables around.”
But the Elis were not the only ones to put up a fight Saturday, as the upstart Big Red remained within striking distance for the entirety of the match and repeatedly prevented Yale attackers from capitalizing on opportunities.
Macauley got the momentum going in the 10th minute when she settled a cross from forward Leslie Perez ’10 and danced around a Big Red defender before sending the ball toward the net, only to have the close-range shot saved by Cornell goalkeeper Megan Bartlett.
Seven minutes later, it looked like Yale would grab the lead when Perez took a long feed from forward Becky Brown ’11 and outraced the Cornell defenders toward the goal. But Bartlett once more proved equal to the challenge — making the save from point-blank range.
“We were able to get forward a lot, but we didn’t put it away,” Macauley said. “I think that is kind of part of the game … It was good that we were creating chances, but if you don’t finish it, it doesn’t mean anything.”
Yale had more close attempts in the 21st through 24th minutes on back-to-back corner kicks. Forward Miyuki Hino ’12 sent a header just high of net, while Brown and defender Hannah Smith ’10 also had shots blocked and saved.
The half closed with Yale tallying 10 shots to the Big Red’s five and recording a 6-0 advantage in corners. But the score still held at a 0–0 tie.
“It was frustrating, but sometimes that happens,” Hino said. “Bounces weren’t going our way. But we were all over them and we knew that, so at halftime we were very positive.”
When the second half began, Cornell seemed ready to take control of possession — raising both the intensity and the aggressiveness of the match.
But the Big Red’s physical play backfired five minutes after the halftime restart, when Hino was taken down in the box by a Big Red defender. The sophomore forward then scored on a penalty kick that glanced off the left post and into the net.
It was Hino’s third goal of the season, putting her right behind Brown, who leads the team with 10.
Cornell responded to the Yale goal with faster play and increased pressure, causing the Bulldogs to play more defensively as they struggled to clear the ball from their end for most of the half.
“We never got that second goal,”Meredith said, referring to the Elis’ slim lead during regulation time. “Psychologically, it’s a much different game when you are down two goals versus only down one, and you know you can tie the game up.”
The Big Red had outshot the Elis, 8–3, as the clock dipped under five minutes. Then with 1:10 left to play, Cornell was rewarded for its relentless drives when defender Sidra Bonner headed in a corner kick — tying the game and shifting the match’s momentum as the teams headed into overtime.
Forster put a quick stop to Cornell’s comeback, finally finishing a play for Yale as she took Macauley’s pass and dribbled through defenders to send her shot rolling into the right corner of the net.
It was Forster’s first career goal.
“I’m excited that I could finally put one away,” said Forster, who also leads the team with six assists. “We decided that Cornell was not going to take this game from us, and before overtime started, we all pulled together and put our best foot forward.”
For Meredith, the sudden-death win was, above all, a relief.
“Cornell scored and we could have given up and lost, and that would have been a catastrophe,” Meredith said. “I was stressing there because normally in a game like that, when a team ties the game, they have the momentum and they take that momentum into overtime.”
The Elis take the pitch again Tuesday when they vie with arch-rival Harvard for first place in the Ivy League.
According to Meredith, it could be anyone’s match.
“It’s going to be a great game,” Meredith said. “It’s just going to come down to who wants it more that day, and who puts their chances away.”
Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m. at Reese Stadium.