This weekend marks the first away trip for the Yale women’s soccer team as it travels out of state to play Villanova and Maryland.
Not a single Bulldog has seen action against either the Wildcats (0–5–0, 0–0–0 Big East) or the Terrapins (4–3–0, 0–0–0 Big Ten) while donning the Yale uniform, as the Elis last played Maryland in 2005 and the Wildcats in 2004.
“We are looking forward to playing schools that we do not normally play,” goalkeeper Rachel Ames ’16 said. “Both of [them] are good, tough teams. It is our first set of away games and we are excited to continue progressing as a team.”
It has been a difficult past couple of weeks for the Wildcats, as they have yet to score any goals this season. Following three 1–0 losses and one 2–0 loss, Villanova was throttled by No. 12 West Virginia 8–0 after the Mountaineers scored three goals in the first 10 minutes of the half.
But after playing all of those games on the road, the Wildcats will be making their home debut against the Elis. The Bulldogs would do well to watch out for forward Amanda Vocelka, who started 18 of 19 games a year ago in her freshman campaign and led the team with five assists.
When Yale takes on the Terrapins, on the other hand, the game figures to have a good deal more offense. Maryland has seven goals to date, while the Elis are on top with 10 goals in just three games.
Strong offensive forces are coming from the youngest players on the Yale women’s team. Forward Michelle Alozie ’19 has scored four goals, including a hat trick in Tuesday’s 4–0 romp over Sacred Heart. Forwards Sofia Griff ’19 and Keri Cavallo ’19 each have two goals apiece, while the final two Eli goals are from midfielder Shannon Conneely ’16 and defender Ally Grossman ’16.
Yet players are not content to simply rest on their laurels.
“When we talk about executing anything on the field or winning in general, we say something along the lines of ‘It’s not enough to talk about doing it, you have to go out and do it,’” defender Ana Keusch ’16 said.
The high-powered attack thus far marks a stark difference from a year ago, when the Bulldogs scored only 21 goals in 16 games, a far cry from league leader Princeton’s 35 goals in 16 games.
A huge part of that difference is the team’s ability in 2015 to put shots on target. After only 47.3 percent of the Bulldogs’ shots were on goal a year ago, the Elis have improved their accuracy and increased that percentage to 57.9.
According to Keusch, the Elis develop their solid attack squad by watching film from previous games. Keusch stated that if there are repeated mistakes on tape, then those will be the areas that will be ironed out in practice the following week.
“We have a lot of potential as a team, but that means nothing if we can’t keep it together for 90 minutes,” midfielder Geneva Decker ’17 said. “The main challenge for us is going to be staying mentally turned on for the entirety of the matches [against Villanova and Maryland].”
The Bulldogs are currently on a two-game winning streak and a two-game shutout streak. From here on out, the Elis will be away from Reese Stadium until Harvard comes down from Cambridge on Oct. 3.
Friday’s contest against Villanova begins at 3 p.m., Sunday’s against Maryland is at 1 p.m.