Not a single player on the Yale women’s soccer team has played for the Elis during a win over rival Harvard. The Bulldogs’ winless streak against the Crimson has lasted since 2007, but on Saturday, the team’s seven seniors will get a final chance to take down their rival with a conference win.
With the home-field advantage on their side, the Bulldogs will have the overwhelming support of the crowd in the contest, which kicks off a Harvard-Yale doubleheader at Reese Stadium involving both the women’s and men’s soccer teams. The Elis (3–4–2, 0–1–0 Ivy) will enter the home game looking to rebound after a 3–0 loss to Princeton last Saturday, while the Crimson (3–6–1, 1–0–0) hopes to continue its undefeated conference season with a chance at its third-consecutive Ivy League title.
“Harvard tends to be one of the most intense and mentally challenging games of the Ivy League, especially since it is such a big rivalry,” defender and captain Ally Grossman ’16 said. “[The seniors] are hoping that we can pull out a win during our final season.”
Both teams started Ivy League conference play last weekend, with Harvard taking down Penn in a 2–0 triumph during the Bulldogs’ loss to the Tigers.
To get the upper hand against the two-time defending conference champions, Yale has been working with added intensity this week in practice, assistant coach Marty Walker said. Walker also said the rivalry contest will test not only Yale’s physicality and skill, but the mental game of each Eli athlete.
“We talk about the three ‘A’s,” Walker said in an email to the News. “There is no point in having ability unless you have the attitude and application to back it up. With all three, success comes more often.”
Thus far in 2015, Yale’s offense has outshined Harvard’s, with the Elis scoring an average of 1.56 goals per game while the Crimson averaged just 0.70. The top goal scorers for the Bulldogs this season have been forward Michelle Alozie ’19 and midfielder Sofia Griff ’19, with five and four goals, respectively. Most of Harvard’s goals have come from midfielder Brooke Dickens, forward Joan Fleischman and forward Margaret Purce, but each only has two goals to their names.
Defensively, however, Harvard has maintained a clear advantage over Yale. The Crimson are fourth in the conference with a 1.20 goals against average, whereas the Bulldogs have dropped to the bottom of the Ancient Eight rankings with 2.11 goals allowed per game. Yale’s young defense — with just one upperclassman out of four starting defenders — has struggled despite Eli goalkeeper Rachel Ames ’16 tallying 53 saves, the most in the Ivy League, in nine games.
“We know how important this game is for the rest of our season,” defender Colleen McCormack ’17 said. “So we are going into it with confidence.”
Assistant coach Todd Plourde said that in addition to that confidence, strong team chemistry will aid the Bulldogs’ fight for a win.
Grossman also said that the team cohesion both on and off the field has been particularly powerful.
“As a senior class, the focus points we emphasize are working hard at every given moment and playing for each other,” said Grossman. “Our team definitely has the talent and heart [to win], but it will require leadership from everyone in the senior class and 100 percent effort until that final whistle blows.”
Yale’s matchup against Harvard will kick off at Reese Stadium at 4 p.m.