Twenty minutes into her first game wearing blue and white, defender Carlin Hudson ’18 scored her first collegiate goal and the first goal of the 2014 season.

For the Yale women’s soccer team, having 10 new players in the class of 2018 is unusual, especially for a team with only seven seniors, seven juniors and six sophomores. With 30 players on the squad, the freshmen had to prove their skills early on, and Hudson did just that.

Hudson’s stunning start as an Eli was just the beginning — she has continued to have a remarkable season.

“Since I play defense, I don’t usually score, so that made scoring all the more exciting,” Hudson said. “The fact that it was our team’s first goal of the season just added on to that.”

Of the team’s 13 games, Hudson has started in 12, including all five conference games. In the Ivy League games, she has been matched up against some of the toughest offensive players around.

Against Harvard, Hudson faced off with Margaret Purce, the 2013 Ivy League Player of the Year. Purce is currently tied for second in the league with six goals, as well as in second place for most shots in the league. Hudson did her job in the match and kept Purce from scoring or shooting at all, resulting in a 0–0 tie.

“When the coaches told me I was going to man mark these players, I was proud that they felt that I could do the job well. I was nervous, but I’m also very competitive, so playing someone almost one-on-one was thrilling the whole game,” Hudson said.

The Yale defensive unit has been the driving factor for many of the points the team has earned in Ivy League play. The team has only allowed two goals in five conference games. This defensive prowess, in addition to stellar goalkeeping performances, has given the Bulldogs the best defensive performance in the entire league, keeping adversaries to just .40 goals on average per game.

“Although saves are counted equally in the statistics, the defense has been really good about stepping to the ball and preventing shots from close in so that I’m able to make the save,” goalkeeper Elise Wilcox ’15 said.

Hudson’s defensive abilities have been encouraged by her upperclassmen teammates. She added that everyone on the team was supportive and welcoming when the freshmen first joined the team, which provided them with the comfort needed to play at the top of their game.

Though defensive players do not usually gain the same statistical recognition as offensive players and goalkeepers, Hudson’s manner of play has not gone unnoticed. After her performance in the Harvard game, Hudson was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week.

Besides an encouraging team and set of coaches behind her, Hudson said that her real inspiration is her family. She thanks them for giving her the opportunity to participate in soccer and for their support throughout her career.

With only two games left in the season, both against Ivy League opponents, Hudson and the Bulldogs are focusing on winning out and raising their standing from fifth place. While the team looks forward to the opportunity to compete against more conference opponents, Hudson said the Bulldogs’ performance so far this year has been solid.

“The team this year has been extraordinary. We are all so close and I think we are playing great soccer. Unfortunately, some games haven’t gone our way, but we go out and we play our hearts out every game,” Hudson said.

Saturday’s matchup against Columbia is Senior Day. Play begins at 4 p.m. at Reese Stadium.