The Yale women soccer players faced a true test of their abilities this weekend, with two games in three days for the annual Yale Classic, held at Reese Stadium.
The Elis (3–1–0, 0–0–0 Ivy) showed their strength as a team, however, taking home a victory to extend their season-opening win streak before losing a close overtime battle. Yale topped Western Kentucky 2–0 on Friday before falling to Manhattan 2–1 on Sunday.
“Both Western Kentucky and Manhattan gave it 100 percent effort, and unfortunately we were only able to get the result in one game,” goalkeeper Rachel Ames ’16 said.
The classic started on Friday with Sacred Heart defeating Manhattan before Yale took on Western Kentucky (4–2–0, 0–0–0 C-USA), whose coach, Jason Neidell, is a Yale soccer alumnus. For the first 25 minutes of the first half, all of Yale’s shots on goal came from forward Melissa Gavin ’15, while all of Western Kentucky’s came via forward Shayna Dheel. Ames and Allison Leone of Western Kentucky, however, stopped three shots between them to keep the game scoreless.
The ball continued to travel up and down the field with fouls on both sides until a foul by Western Kentucky gave Gavin a free kick in the 26th minute. She took advantage, driving the ball into the net from 20 yards out for an unassisted goal that gave Yale the lead at 25:49.
After multiple substitutions by both teams, Western Kentucky took control, taking back-to-back shots on goal, both of which were saved by Ames. Gavin managed to take another shot, but Yale failed to capitalize on the opportunity before the half ended.
Heading into the second half, Ames was replaced by Elise Wilcox ’15, who had two saves within 10 minutes of her entrance. Midfielder Geny Decker ’17 took charge for Yale, taking three shots on goal in five minutes. Another save by Wilcox and a shot by Gavin kept Western Kentucky on their toes. Gavin was taken out for a substitute in the 72nd minute, but in a crucial move for Yale, only stayed out for a few minutes before subbing in for Frannie Coxe ’15.
Just five minutes later after returning, Gavin took control of the ball, weaving through the Western Kentucky defense before passing to Sarah McCauley ’18. The freshman ripped the ball into the net to raise Yale’s lead to two at 84:55, sealing the game for the Bulldogs.
“Sarah’s goal was great and secured the win for us,” Ames said. “We weren’t expecting to shut out Western Kentucky but were expecting a tough game where we would have to earn the win.”
The Elis took a day off before taking on Manhattan (5–3–0, 0–0–0 MAAC) midday on Sunday. Though Manhattan is much closer to Yale than Western Kentucky, the squad did not know much about the Jaspers when heading into the game, according to a number of players.
For the entire first half, the ball went up and down the field evenly, with both teams making multiple shots without success. Though many shots were taken, neither goalkeeper had to make a save.
The second half started in the same way as the first, with both teams taking shots. Gavin took the first shot on goal of the game at 55:35, with Manhattan’s Kristen Skonieczny protecting the goal for her team.
Just minutes later, a foul on Manhattan gave Coxe a penalty kick, which she capitalized on to score at 63:33.
Things were looking up for Yale until a key substitution for Manhattan lead to a goal. At 74:56, Emily Ude went in for Sam Washuk. Less than two minutes later, Ude passed the ball to Tiffanie McIntosh, who scored high in the goal, tying the game at one.
Both goalkeepers made saves for the rest of the half, keeping the game tied and sending the game into a golden-goal extra-time session. Overtime began with an early shot by Manhattan, but Gavin struck back with a shot of her own. Both Yale and Manhattan took two more shots each before Aislinn McIlvenny of Manhattan scored the game-winning goal at 98:06, serving the Bulldogs their first loss of the season.
Though players said that suffering their first loss is upsetting, the team is already focusing on its next game, which will be against St. Peter’s on Tuesday. Both Gavin and Coxe said that they will be focusing on one game at a time heading into another busy week, with a game at Hofstra on Friday and another against New Hampshire on Sunday.
The game against Hofstra will be the first out-of-state game of the season for the Bulldogs, but their mentality will not change.
“Having the game in New York will not affect the way we go into the game against Hofstra,” Gavin said.
The Bulldogs compete against St. Peter’s on Tuesday in Reese Stadium at 7 p.m.