After four weeks of playing either at home or close to it, the Yale women’s soccer team will make one of its longest hauls yet to Ithaca, N.Y., to face the Cornell Big Red on Saturday.
Yale (5–4–2, 0–1–2 Ivy) will head into the game with a chance to move up in the conference standings, as Cornell (6–6, 1–2) is currently ranked fifth in the league with three points-just one more than Yale’s total of two.
“This week’s practice is mainly focused on attacking the final third, as we have gone quite a few games without scoring,” midfielder Geny Decker ’17 said. “I think focusing on attacking throughout this week’s practice will get us in the right mind-set as a team heading into our game against Cornell.”
The Elis will look to take advantage of what appears to be a defensive mismatch. The Big Red has allowed five goals to Ivy League opponents, the third-most in the league, while Yale’s defense has allowed only one so far in its three games of conference play.
On the opposite side of the ball, however, Cornell enters with the advantage, with 19 goals thus far in the season to Yale’s 14. Two of the Ivy League’s top five scorers, midfielder Elizabeth Crowell and forward Caroline Growney, play for the Big Red. The duo has a combined 10 goals this season.
While the Elis bolster a strong defense, the team’s offense has struggled this season. The Elis’ zero conference goals, despite its 35 shots, have kept them at the bottom of the conference standings despite their 0.545 overall winning percentage, fourth best in the conference.
A win on Saturday will be necessary for the Bulldogs’ chances at a conference title, as will wins in every future conference game and a few losses from higher-ranked teams — especially the two teams tied for first, Harvard and Princeton. But that is not what is at the forefront of their thoughts, said goalkeeper Elise Wilcox ’15.
“Whether we get the title or not isn’t in our control, so we’re just focusing on winning each game,” Wilcox said.
Lately, Yale’s biggest struggle has been simply scoring goals. The Bulldogs have not scored for their previous five games, and the last time the Elis found the back of the net was in a 2–1 victory over Hofstra on Sept. 19.
With the long trip to Cornell ahead of them, the team has had the majority of the week to focus on the game, as its only other game this week was on Monday against Central Connecticut State University. The Elis lost to the Blue Devils 4–0.
Forward Melissa Gavin ’15 commented that the Bulldogs will use the spare hours to do work and get some rest, but that in the past, head coach Rudy Meredith has used some of the time to prepare for the game.
“Rudy has gone over game strategies with different members of the offense and defense and will let us know if he wants us to change anything specific for that particular game,” Gavin said. “Last time we drove to Cornell, we actually all watched film of them playing Georgetown earlier that year.”
The match against the Big Red starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Greg Cameron contributed reporting.