After a season of intense play both at home and away, the Yale women’s soccer team completed its final game at Reese Stadium for the 2014 campaign, tying Columbia at zero and earning one point in the Ivy League standings.
The contest also marked Yale’s senior day, marking the final home game for seven seniors, including a pair of two-time All-Ivy players, forward Melissa Gavin ’15 and midfielder Meredith Speck ’15.
“We didn’t get a win, but everyone on the field worked especially hard for our seven seniors in the knowledge that this was their last ever home game,” forward Geneva Decker ’17 said.
The Bulldogs (7–4–4, 1–1–4 Ivy) had a rough day of weather for the game last Saturday. Temperatures below 50 degrees, wind and rain all combined to make play very difficult for both teams. The Elis, however, battled through the adversity and kept up their stellar defensive performance to shut out Columbia (7–3–6, 2–2–2).
For Yale, the game started strong defensively, allowing no shots on goal in the entire first half. Offensively, the Elis showed their strength as well, forcing the Columbia goalkeeper to make five saves in the first 45 minutes. The Yale seniors led the way with Gavin, Speck and midfielder Frannie Coxe ’15 combining for four of the team’s five shots on goal in the first half.
Twenty-two minutes into the game, Yale’s chances to score looked bright when Gavin took a shot that deflected off a Columbia defender. Speck managed to recover the ball and break away from the nearest Lion players. She attempted to shoot, but the ball got away from her and the Columbia goalie managed to stop it before Yale could take any other chances.
After a yellow card on Columbia, the Bulldogs had the opportunity to take two corner kicks with only 30 seconds left in the half. The Elis rushed to make something happen in the chaos of the last few minutes before intermission, but their attempts were unsuccessful. The score remained tied at zero.
After having a few minutes to try to get warm, the Elis headed back out to the field looking to get on the board. Gavin took an early corner kick that just sailed over the top of the net, which was soon followed by a shot from Decker — who, despite her forward designation, started and played on defense all game — that was blocked by the Columbia goalkeeper. This was Yale’s only shot on goal in the entire second half.
Yale goalkeeper Elise Wilcox ’15, who did not have to make a single save in the first half, felt the pressure from the Lions early on in the second period of action. She made three saves in a 17-minute span, one of which required her to dive to the side. She just managed to stretch for the ball and push it away from the corner of the goal.
Though the Lions dominated the second half of the game, the Elis took control in the first overtime with three corner kicks and a shot by Gavin compared to no shots or corner kicks by Columbia. The Elis continued to apply pressure into the second overtime, with an early shot by Speck being saved by the Columbia goalkeeper. The Lions had one more chance to take the lead when Holly Neshat took a shot with only a minute and a half left in the game, but Wilcox stopped the ball and prevented a disheartening Eli loss.
While the Bulldogs failed to get the victory, players agreed that the game and surrounding festivities were an appropriate way to send out the team’s senior class.
“[Saturday] was a great celebration of our senior class and everything they have done for the team,” goalkeeper Rachel Ames ’16 said. “I know I speak for everyone when I say we will dearly miss our seniors next year, on and off the field.”
Both Decker and defender Katie Fletcher ’17 agreed, saying that the seniors will be missed and that the team is excited to see where the seniors go in the future.
Prior to the game, the team spent its time with children from a Hartford outreach program as part of its Community Outreach Day. The children ate lunch with the team and had the opportunity to ask the team questions in an open panel.
One of the girls in the program, Naomi Cipriano, even sang the National Anthem at the start of the game.
“It was great to be able to spend time with the kids,” Ames said. “It seemed like they had a great time, and the team was glad we were able to put on the event.”
The Bulldogs — currently tied for fifth in the Ivy League with Penn — have one more chance to improve their end of season standing when they take on Brown this Friday. The game will begin at 7 p.m.