The women’s soccer team has one final weekend of preparation before its Ivy League season begins against Princeton at the end of the month.

This weekend, the Bulldogs will face two non-conference rivals: Yale will host Sacred Heart tonight at Reese stadium, and on Sunday, the team will travel to Fairfield for a 2 p.m. kickoff. Despite one major road bump — an 8–0 loss to No. 10 Georgetown — Yale (4–1–0, 0–0 Ivy) has been steadily improving this season.

Defense has been the major concern along the way, but things are looking up after a 2–0 shutout on Wednesday against Hartford. One-on-one defense in particular has been a consistent point of emphasis for head coach Rudy Meredith. Midfielder Frannie Coxe ’15 added that there has been a lot of focus on individual marking and taking ownership on defense. Coxe highlighted the importance of maintaining control of the ball in the midfield.

“Working on keeping the ball in transition is a big thing,” Coxe said. “If we can move smoothly from defense into the attack, we can get more people into the final third for goal-scoring opportunities, which is exactly what we want.”

This weekend is shaping up to be a prime opportunity for the Bulldogs to fine tune their performance, as they have a history of success against both opponents. Yale has never lost to Sacred Heart (2–5–0, 0–0 NEC) in the duo’s 11 prior meetings. The Pioneers will be led by captain Kristin Verette, last week’s Northeast Conference Women’s Soccer Player of the Week, who is coming off a strong two-goal performance.

Fairfield (3–3–0, 0–0 MAAC) has not fared much better against Yale in the past, as the Stags have lost their last six matchups against the Bulldogs.

Fairfield is carrying some momentum with them into Sunday’s matchup though, as well as a new piece of hardware. The Stags captured the 2013 Fairfield Women’s Soccer Invitational this past weekend, with wins over American University and Holy Cross University. Fairfield has won three in a row after a three-game losing streak to open the season. The Yale defense will have to make sure someone is marking Fairfield’s forward Ashley Small at all times, as she has scored four of the team’s six goals this season.

With the excitement and anticipation of the Ivy League schedule looming, Meredith is aware that there is a chance the team may overlook its opponents this weekend.

“I’m hoping that we do not, but that could happen,” Meredith acknowledged. “We’ll see what happens.”

Coxe, however, was confident that no such thing would take place.

“We are taking it one game at a time, focusing on Sacred Heart first and then Fairfield in order to work out the kinks,” Coxe said. “That way, we can be 100 percent by the time we play Princeton.”

Kickoff against Sacred Heart is slated for 7 p.m. tonight.