In 1992 and 2005, the Yale women’s soccer team brought home rings for winning the Ivy League championship. The 2015 season has already begun, marking the 10th anniversary since the program last stood at number one in the Ancient Eight.
The Elis have plunged into a competitive schedule that began with Arkansas last week, and continues with Hofstra this Friday. Both of these opponents were previously ranked in the top-50 out of nearly 300 Division Ixz programs for the 2014 season, with Arkansas coming in at No. 42 and Hofstra at No. 43. Yale, meanwhile, finished the season in the No. 108 spot of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Ratings Percentage Index.
Head coach Rudy Meredith said he sets his team up against high-level programs so that he can analyze how his offensive and defensive lines fair against the competition through each match.
Ivy play begins in late September this year. By then, Meredith hopes that his team will have worked out any major kinks in their game in order to compete for the championship title.
“I would like to see us get better each week,” Meredith said.
The Yale women’s soccer team graduated seven seniors after the 2014 season. After the end of their 16 regular season games, several of those players earned prestigious distinctions. Captain Meredith Speck ’15 became a three-time first team All-Ivy selection, goalkeeper Elise Wilcox ’15 was named the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year, forward Melissa Gavin ’15 was an All-Ivy second team selection and midfielder Muriel Battaglia ’15 was an All-Ivy first team selection.
Eight freshmen will replace the senior class in an effort to repeat the Elis’ previous successes.
“Since we have a relatively young lineup, we are expecting to see a ton of improvement as the players become more and more experienced,” forward Paula Hagopian ’16 said.
Meredith mentioned two returners, captain and defender Ally Grossman ’16 and goalkeeper Rachel Ames ’16, as players who will bring experience to the field this season.
The senior class is composed of seven players, each bringing their own talents and skill sets to the field with a common goal in mind.
“With the talent we currently have on the team, I think we all are expecting to win an Ivy League Championship and will be disappointed with anything short of that,” Hagopian said.
Since Meredith became the head coach of the Elis in 1995, he has become the winningest coach in Yale history. With 196 victories under his belt, he plans to lead the Bulldogs to another NCAA College Cup appearance — a feat he accomplished in 2002, 2004 and 2005.
Throughout practice this week, the Elis are preparing against perennial foe Hofstra — a team the Bulldogs defeated last season 2–1. The team is looking to improve its performance from last Friday’s loss against Arkansas.
“The key factor that will set us apart from other teams this year is our work ethic,” said forward Karina Kovacik ’17. “We have really stepped up our game, and trust each other to give everything to win the game.”
The Yale Women’s soccer team will be playing Hofstra on Friday at Reese Stadium at 7:30 p.m.