After a bright start to the season, the Yale women’s soccer team looked strong heading into its first conference game against Princeton on Saturday. However, it fell just short after the Tigers scored with only five minutes left in the game, bringing the final score to 1–0.
On a throw-in play with just under six minutes in regulation, Princeton’s Tyler Lussi — who ranked third in Ivy League scoring last season — picked up a pass from Vanessa Gregoire. Lussi then slid the ball past Elise Wilcox ’15 on the left side of the net to give the Tigers their only goal of the game.
The Tigers (2–3–2, 1–0 Ivy) and the Bulldogs both finished last season in the lower half of the Ivy League, taking seventh and fifth places, respectively. Both Yale (5–3, 0–1 Ivy) and Princeton knew that this game would set the tone for the rest of Ivy League play, with every win crucial to lock up the Ivy League Championship at the end of the season.
“The results [of the Ivy League Championship] are based on a point system where the team with the best record wins,” midfielder Geny Decker ’17 said.
Heading into the game, the Elis had five days without games, a welcome break after two straight weekends with two games in a three-day span. Decker said that the players were rested and feeling strong at the start Saturday’s match.
Yale and Princeton started the match evenly with both teams taking corner kicks, but with Princeton taking most of the shots. Yale’s first attempt at goal came from Decker four minutes into the game, but no other shots were taken for thirty minutes. Substitutions kept the teams fresh as they continued to take the ball up and down the field.
Finally, a breakthrough occurred for the Elis when Sarah McCauley ’18 and Georgiana Wagemann ’15 took back-to-back shots. Princeton goalkeeper Hannah Winner saved both. The half ended with the teams almost completely even in all categories except corner kicks, with Yale at seven and Princeton at three.
The second half started more explosively than the first, with the Tigers charging out of the gate with two shots in a row. The Elis fought back, with forward Melissa Gavin ’15 taking charge with two shots of her own. The opponents continued to battle, with shots taken on both sides, until fouls slowed the game down momentarily. Alessia Azermadhi of Princeton received a yellow card 66 minutes into the game, and Muriel Battaglia ’15 received one of her own just 20 seconds later.
Both teams bounced back, taking more shots and putting the pressure on the goalkeepers. Wilcox held the goal for Yale, making two saves before Princeton struck the final blow of the game.
With only six minutes left in play, the ball was thrown in and Gregoire managed to take control, passing the ball to a wide-open Lussi. Lussi took advantage of the situation and sank the ball into the net, giving Princeton all they needed to win the game. Yale never had the opportunity to retaliate on the scoreboard.
Though the loss is not ideal for the Elis, they still have a long road ahead of them in Ivy League play. The pressure of the second half of the season will be higher than it was in the first half, with six of the remaining eight games being against other Ivy League schools.
“Ivy games always bring more intensity because they are ultimately what our season depends upon,” Rachel Ames ’16 said.
Emotions will be at an all time high for the Elis as they head to Cambridge to face off against Harvard this weekend. Decker said the game will be tough for both teams because they both have such a drive to win and the rivalry is so intense.
Play begins on Saturday, Oct. 4 at 4 p.m.