The women soccer team’s bid to claim the Ivy League title that slipped away in 2009 will be challenged this weekend as Yale takes on reigning conference champion Harvard in Cambridge, Mass.
The Cantabs (3–4–1, 0–1 Ivy) grabbed sole possession of the league crown last year — edging out second-place Yale — with an overtime win against Columbia on the final day of Ivy play. The Bulldogs (3–5–1, 0–1) also fell to Harvard at Reese Stadium last season, something head coach Rudy Meredith said the team will keep in the back of its mind on Saturday.
“Obviously we know that was the game that cost us the Ivy League championship last year, but every Ivy League game is important,” Meredith said. “It’s going to be four or five teams at the end that have a chance to win it, and you want to be one of those teams.”
Yale enters the contest against the Crimson riding the momentum of a mid-week win against Marist on Tuesday. The Elis topped the Red Foxes 3–2 after racking up a three-goal lead in the first half and fending off a comeback in the second.
The Blue have had less luck in the Ancient Eight so far.
Yale dropped its first Ivy League contest of the season 1–0 to Princeton last weekend after a controversial offsides call in the final 10 seconds of play nullified what would have been the game-tying goal from forward Kristen Forster ’13.
Meredith said defense will be a key factor against a Crimson’s offense that has scored six goals in the last two games alone.
“The first part for us is that we have to try to do a better job defensively,” Meredith said. “We have to be careful … doing a better job marking on crosses and corner kicks.”
Four of 15 goals given up by Yale this season have come on corner kicks.
Harvard forward Melanie Baskind has a team-leading five goals, while forward Katherine Sheeleigh follows with four. Baskind recorded the game-winner against Yale in 2009, scoring in the 79th minute to put the Cantabs ahead 3–2.
Forward and team captain Becky Brown ’11 capitalized twice against Marist to bring her goal total for the season to a team-leading three. Forward Natalie Romine ’11 also has a pair.
Defensively, the Eli roster remains thin because of injuries. Meredith said figuring out the back line has been one of his focuses at games and in practice.
“I’ve probably done more experiments on our defense than a doctor,” he said. “It feels like it’s been biology class or something, with all the experiments we’ve been doing … I think it’s been OK, but you never know until it’s in a real situation.”
Yale kicks off against Harvard at 11 a.m. on Saturday.