The Yale women’s soccer team posted its third shutout in a row last Friday against Villanova before falling to Maryland on Sunday afternoon.
A tight game against the Villanova Wildcats kept the Bulldogs’ win streak alive when the game ended 1–0. A penalty call in the first half almost foiled Yale’s third shutout, but the Villanova player faltered under the pressure and her shot went wide. Goalie Rachel Ames ’16 said the penalties were mental battles.
“I focused on doing my best to psych the Villanova player out and block the [penalty kick]. I honestly didn’t know it went wide until I got up, but it was a relief to see that she missed, ” said Ames.
The stressful matchup continued in the second half, and midfielder Sofia Griff ’19 was moved up top next to forward Michelle Alozie ’19. The change in position paid off, with Griff finally putting Yale on the scoreboard 12 minutes before the final whistle. A corner kick in the 78th minute met Alozie’s head, and Griff found the back of the net when the ball fell to her feet.
After her hat trick last Tuesday, Alozie showed another side to her offensive presence by assisting Griff’s goal. The two freshmen have built up an impressive relationship on the field, complementing each other’s style consistently. The team alternates between keeping Griff in the midfield to feed Alozie and pushing both of the Elis up top to head the attack together.
“As we play more and more games, we understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Sofia is great at playing the perfect through balls in space for me, and I am always able to win the ball in the air or lay it to her feet so that she can fire off her amazing shots. I believe that our chemistry will continue to get stronger and stronger as we get closer to the Ivy games,” said Alozie.
Both Alozie and Griff have provided three assists for the other and have maintained their offensive pressure over the past few games.
On Sunday, the Elis played their fifth game over the course of 10 days, traveling to College Park, Maryland, to meet the Terrapins on their home turf.
The Terps were an offensive force, putting up 30 shots throughout the game, 13 of which came from striker Alex Anthony. Three goals in the first half had them dominating, but after half-time Griff was able to respond off of another assist from Alozie. The 3–1 score persisted for 15 minutes until Maryland was able to put in a fourth goal. A late score capped the game at 5–1, marking Yale’s first loss in four games.
Team members agreed that Maryland was one of the most dynamic teams that they have played.
“Maryland is a very athletic, skilled team from a big program. Our biggest weakness was lack of experience against such a well developed team,” said Ames.
The loss to Maryland marks the Bulldogs’ third, following the season openers against Arkansas and Hofstra.
Team members said that playing against such strong teams early on is helpful in developing the team for the rest of the season.
“Playing these well rounded teams like Maryland, Hofstra and Arkansas are making us more prepared for the Ivy League games,” said Alozie.
The Terrapins were able to create many opportunities from dead balls, which Griff recognized as something that the team needed to work on defending against. Being able to develop plays from corners and free kicks was instrumental to the relentless attack on the Yale defense, according to Griff.
Having so many games over that time span really wears down on players, Ames said, making games against such athletic opponents even tougher.
“It was definitely a hard stretch. That’s a lot of minutes to play in such a short time, especially against the competition we faced. It’ll be good to have a few days to rest and refocus before Hartford,” said Ames.
The Elis will be getting a well-deserved rest until Thursday, when the team travels to Hartford for kick-off at 7 p.m.