The women’s soccer team produced a dominant display in its first home game of the season with a 3–0 victory over the Sacred Heart Pioneers on Tuesday evening.
The match started out looking as though it might go either way with both offenses probing without creating any clear chances, though the Pioneers scored on themselves to give Yale an early lead. But the tide turned when Melissa Gavin ’15 curled the ball on a corner kick past the Pioneers’ keeper and into the far corner of the goal to put Yale up by two. The Elis took control of the rest of the game and came off the field with a shutout.
“I think the most important thing we can take from today is that we have a lot of potential,” Gavin said. “If we play together, and work for each other off the ball, we can be dangerous this season.”
Sacred Heart (2–3–0) started strong, and almost found an opening when Ashley Moore shimmied past two defenders, only to strike a tame cross straight at goalkeeper Adele Jackson-Gibson’13. The Bulldogs (2–1–0) were passing the ball fluently in midfield, but struggled to find their rhythm in the final third.
Still, they took the lead in the 18th minute, when Gavin swung a free kick into the box, where a Pioneers defender inadvertently put the ball into her own net.
Minutes after taking the lead, the Elis were dealt a large blow, as Jackson-Gibson was forced to leave the game with a knee injury after an awkward landing. Jackson-Gibson had been playing in just her third game after recovering from an injury that had sidelined her for a substantial chunk of last season. Elise Wilcox ’15 stepped into goal to relieve Jackson-Gibson.
Both teams showed resolute defending and great pressing in midfield. Sacred Heart came close to equalizing in the 38th minute when Ashley Roth fired a header on goal, only to be denied by a superb Bulldog block. Soon after, Jacquelyn Roth nearly capitalized on a defensive mixup, but only managed to shoot straight at Wilcox who caught the shot and punted it back to her teammates.
The Bulldogs came out strong in the second half, and Kristen Forster ’15 almost doubled Yale’s lead when she directed a free header over the crossbar. The Elis continued to press and earned a corner kick in 56th minute. Gavin stepped up to take the kick and found the back of the net to bring the score to 2–0.
After Gavin’s goal, the Elis played with an added confidence. Had it not been for some end-game defense by the Pioneers, and profligacy in front of goal by the Elis, Yale might have won by an even larger margin. Anne Song ’13 was released by an exquisite through ball from Gavin and fired wide with only the keeper to beat. Shannon McSweeney ’14 found herself unmarked off a corner but sent it high, and minutes later, Gavin nearly doubled her tally for the night with a curling shot that sailed just wide.
But the Elis were not to be denied their third goal, and Muriel Battaglia ’15 nodded home her first of the season off a Frannie Coxe ’15 corner.
“The positives today were that we managed a shutout, and scored three goals”, head coach Rudy Meredith said. “The negative was that we need to play the way we played in the second half right from the start. We need to make sure we move forward with each game, not backwards.”
Yale will travel to Chicago over the weekend to play Loyola on Friday and Northwestern on Sunday.