At the end of the women’s soccer match with Cornell on Saturday, a crowd of young soccer players surrounded Enma Mullo ’12 to get autographs and take pictures with the star of the game.
The midfielder, who had converted two free kicks including the game-winner in overtime, led the Bulldogs to a 2-1 victory over the Big Red on Saturday night at Reese Stadium. The win allowed Yale to remain in a second-place tie with Penn in the Ivy League standings, just one point behind first-place Harvard.
Though the Bulldogs (7-4-2, 3-1 Ivy) outshot Cornell, 24-10, in the game and took a 1-0 lead into halftime, the Big Red (2-10-1, 0-3-1) scored early in the second half to knot the game and then withstood Yale’s dangerous attacks to force overtime. Cornell hung on until Mullo scored in the 97th minute to give the Elis the win.
“This is one of those types of games where if you don’t put your chances away, it could come back to bite you, and it almost happened today,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “I give our kids a lot of credit. They kept fighting and pulled it out and got the W. It’s a big, big win for us.”
Freshman goalkeeper Elise Wilcox ’15, who made her first career start against an Ivy League opponent in Saturday’s game, finished with two saves.
“It’s nervewracking, being a freshman, but the team has been nothing but supportive, especially the defensive line and the other freshmen,” Wilcox said. “I know that I can be confident in goal because my team is behind me.”
The Bulldogs controlled possession for the majority of the first half, generating multiple scoring chances early on.
Forward Melissa Gavin ’15 nearly got the Bulldogs on the board in the 18th minute after she took a feed from Mullo and blasted a shot towards the net, which forced Cornell goalkeeper Megan Bartlett to make the first of her nine saves in the contest.
Two minutes later, midfielder Juliann Jeffrey ’14 fired a shot from just outside the box, but Bartlett turned it aside.
In the 20th minute, defender Lauren Mathy ’13 was taken down by a Cornell player, setting up a free kick for Mullo just outside the left side of the box. Mullo capitalized by curving a shot into the upper corner of the far post to give Yale a 1-0 lead.
“It’s what she practices,” Meredith said. “She’s the opposite of Allen Iverson. Allen Iverson doesn’t want to practice, but she wants to practice those shots, and that’s why she’s making them.”
The Elis continued to pressure the Big Red, even in the final minute of the first half. Forward Mary Kubiuk ’13 received a pass from forward Frannie Coxe ’15 and directed a left-footed shot towards the net, but Bartlett was there to make the save.
Yale finished the first half with a 10-3 shot advantage.
“We talked about knocking the team out with the second goal, but we just couldn’t get the second goal today,” Meredith said. “That was frustrating. I think if we had gotten the second goal we would have been okay, but we just didn’t get that second goal, and that was a problem.”
Still, Cornell fought back to tie the game just two minutes into the second half. Forward Xandra Hompe shot the ball from 18 yards out past a diving Wilcox and into the inside of the near post to knot the game, 1-1.
But the Bulldogs threatened in the 50th minute when midfielder Kristen Forster ’13 stole the ball from a Cornell defender and dribbled into the box. Forster then passed the ball to Mullo, but Mullo’s shot sailed high over the net.
Hompe had a dangerous opportunity for Cornell in the 59th minute with a high shot that hit the crossbar.
Midfielder/forward Meredith Speck ’15 almost broke the tie in the 78th minute when she came down the far side of the field, cut into the box and sent a shot in that beat Bartlett, but a Cornell defender managed to clear the ball off the line to deny the Bulldogs.
Cornell continued to fend off Yale’s attacks for the remainder of regulation to force the game into overtime. At the end of the second half, the Elis had a 23-8 edge in shots.
“I think we were pretty confident in our ability,” Mullo said. “We just needed to finish. I don’t think any of us doubted that we could, so we had really good spirit going into overtime.“
The first two shots in overtime belonged to the Big Red, but in the 95th minute, a Cornell defender was called for a foul after knocking over Forster, giving the Elis a free kick just outside the box. Mullo converted by drilling her shot over a wall of Big Red defenders, out of Bartlett’s reach and into the back of the net. Afterwards, the Yale bench stormed the field to celebrate the win.
“It was amazing,” Mullo said. “It felt really good because I come out early before practice to take free kicks with our goalie coach. It feels really good to be able to execute what you practice so hard for.”
The Elis are off until Saturday when they continue Ivy League play with a match against Penn. Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m.