Facing yet another nationally-ranked opponent, the women’s soccer team on Sunday dropped its third straight game this season.
The Bulldogs (1–3–0) fell 1–0 to non-league foe No. 14 Duke (5–1–1) in Durham, N.C., on a goal in the 30th minute, as Yale was shut out for the third consecutive game.
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Duke took control from the outset of the game, getting off seven shots against goalkeeper Ayana Sumiyasu ’11 before Eli midfielder Enma Mullo ’12 recorded her team’s first shot in the 18th minute. Sumiyasu held up under fire until the Blue Devils finally bypassed Yale’s goalkeeper on their 10th attempt, when midfielder Maddy Haller headed in a cross from a corner kick at 29:32.
Yale forward Miyuki Hino ’12 said defending corner kicks has been a challenge for the Bulldogs this season.
“Three of the four goals we’ve given up this year have been off of corner kicks, so it’s definitely something we need to work on,” she said.
The Blue Devils continued to pepper the net with shots after the goal — tallying a total of 17 attempts by the end of the half — but were unable to beat Sumiyasu again.
“I think the only other game she’s played better in her career was against UConn a few years ago,” head coach Rudy Meredith said of Sumiyasu. “If it wasn’t for her, we would have been down by more than one goal at halftime, so she actually kept us in the game for the first half.”
Sumiyasu tallied nine saves in the first 45 minutes of play, while Yale recorded just two shots during that time.
True to form from their past few games, the Elis seemed to regroup after the restart.
“We’ve done it the last couple of games now — one of the things that we’ve been working on is trying to stay strong,” Meredith said. “I just think that this team has no quit in them.”
Meredith said part of the improvement came from switching the team’s formation. Duke played four midfielders in the first half, to Yale’s three, so the Bulldogs added another player to the midfield after halftime. Yale made a similar switch at the midpoint in last Thursday’s game against UConn, changing the formation to five midfielders between halves to match the Huskies’ five.
Hino challenged Duke’s goalkeeper Tara Campbell just five minutes after the restart to get the Elis’ momentum going. But neither side managed a shot for the next 20 minutes, until a series of three Duke corner kicks seemed to spark the Blue Devils’ attack. The first corner, taken by midfielder Marybeth Kreger at 70:45, was followed by seven Duke shots in the next seven minutes.
Despite the offensive burst, the home team was unable to capitalize, with all the shots either off target or blocked.
“[Duke] had a lot of shots, but a lot of them were wide or high,” defender Anna McCahon ’14 said. “For the ones that were on goal, Ayana made a lot of good saves.”
The Elis saw their own stretch of offensive momentum between the 80th and 82nd minutes, with Mullo and Hino each tallying a shot and midfielder Juliann Jeffrey ’14 also racking up a pair.
But when Jeffrey’s second shot flew wide on the right at 81:09, it marked Yale’s last attempt of the game and the beginning of another slew of Duke shots. The Blue Devils recorded five more shots in the final nine minutes of play, although they never managed to hit the back of the net. When the buzzer sounded, Duke had outshot Yale 13–5 for the half and 30–7 overall. Sumiyasu finished the day with 11 saves.
Yale still has three more non-league games before it opens Ivy League play at home against Princeton on Sept. 25. Hino said the tough lineup the Bulldogs have been taking on is helping to prepare the squad for conference competition.
“These early season games are just preparation for us, and we’re fighting hard and we’re playing really good teams,” she said. “If we bring the same intensity that we brought today to any Ivy team, whether Harvard or Princeton or Cornell, I think we’re going to win.”
Meredith, for his part, said the Elis have one more quality team to face — No. 5 Boston College — before returning to more evenly matched competitions.
“We’ve just got one more top-20 team to play on Wednesday, and then we go back to playing what I would consider normal teams,” Meredith said. “These teams are all exceptional that we’ve been playing right now.”
The Bulldogs take on the Golden Eagles in Newton, Mass., on Wednesday at 7 p.m.