The Yale women’s soccer team won its second straight game to start the season, this time led by Frannie Coxe ’15, who scored both goals last night against Sacred Heart.
Those goals were all that Yale needed in Fairfield as the Bulldogs captured a 2–1 victory. Heading into the game, the Elis knew that the pressure would be on after defeating Quinnipiac last Friday in their season opener.
“Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac are both pretty similar in that they are both in-state rival games, so they’re a lot more spirited than our other out-of-league games,” forward Melissa Gavin ’15 said.
Last night’s game started out in Sacred Heart’s favor. Junior forward Alexis Parlato ripped a shot only thirty seconds into the game, but she was stopped by Yale goalkeeper Elise Wilcox ’15. A minute later, Wilcox made another save, this time from Sacred Heart’s Marissa Christy.
Both sides received fouls before Yale finally had the opportunity to score. Eli captain Meredith Speck ’15 took at shot at 11:12, but Pioneer goalkeeper Talia Schwartz stopped the ball. Sacred Heart made another attempt at a goal but missed wide, giving Yale the chance to take the ball back down the field. After an assist from Speck, Coxe managed to sail the ball into the net at 12:52 into the game.
“We focused on our shape starting with our offensive line,” forward Paula Hagopian ’16 said.
For the rest of the first half, the ball went up and down the field evenly with both Wilcox and Schwartz making multiple saves. Sacred Heart ended the half with three shots in a row, one saved by Wilcox and the other two missing the goal.
After halftime, Yale put in substitutes, including goalkeeper Rachel Ames ’16 and defender Katie Fletcher ’17. Yale’s defense was tested quickly, as Sacred Heart took four shots in the first eight minutes of the second half, compared to only one shot by Yale. After a Sacred Heart substitution, a foul on Yale allowed Pioneer midfielder Kristin Verrette to score on a penalty kick at 62:17, knotting the contest at one.
After the goal, Ames made two more saves off of corner kicks. At 73:31, Bulldog starter Sarah McCauley ’18 received a yellow card, the first of the game. Six minutes later, Coxe subbed in for Gavin, a critical decision for Yale just a few minutes from the end of the game.
Yet another save by Ames led to two Sacred Heart fouls and a shot attempt by Bulldog forward Ally Grossman ’16 with only three and a half minutes left in the game.
The back and forth finally led to a major Pioneer blunder. A third Sacred Heart foul gave Coxe a penalty kick, which she converted at 88:26, her second goal in the game and her second of the season. Sacred Heart had no opportunity to battle back, sealing the win for the Elis.
The Bulldogs defense was tested heavily throughout the game, as the Elis knew it would be from the start.
“With the help of our two new assistant coaches, our team as a whole began working on defensive strategy in early practices on all parts of the field,” Hagopian said.
The change of focus to defense proved to be the determining factor in the game. Gavin noted that the Bulldog defense, historically unorganized, had spent a significant amount of time practicing its shape and holding players responsible for their positions.
The Bulldogs take on Western Kentucky this Friday at Reese Stadium to begin the Yale Classic. Play starts at 7:30 p.m.