The Yale women’s soccer team broke its five-game winless streak and pulled out a 1–0 victory over Dartmouth this past Saturday night, marking the 200th career victory in head coach Rudy Meredith’s Yale career.
The Bulldogs (4–5–2, 1–2–0 Ivy) finally found the key to success: playing solid defense all the way through the game. After two disappointing losses to open up conference play, the Elis knew they had their hands full with the highest-scoring offense in the Ivy League in town. The back line was able to shut out the Big Green, who entered play having scored 29 goals in 12 contests.
“We made sure to stay compact as a team and to communicate in order to keep track of their players,” goalkeeper Rachel Ames ’16 said.
The Big Green’s (7–3–2, 0–2–1) Lucielle Kozlov came into the game leading the Ivy League with 9 goals, but Yale was able to suppress the senior captain, allowing her to only attempt one shot on goal. Ames said Yale stayed on top of their game, applying consistent defensive pressure.
Forward Michelle Alozie ’19, who leads the Bulldogs with five goals, was lively throughout the first half, constantly pushing the ball up the wing and creating scoring opportunities. With 22 seconds left in the half, however, a challenge in the air brought Alozie to the ground with a head and neck injury. She was escorted off the field and substituted out of the game, but was walking around on the sideline within the hour. Alozie is currently awaiting clearance to play next Saturday against Cornell.
Alozie has been a key figure in the Elis’ attack all season long, and her absence was certainly felt. Yale managed just one shot after the half, but the Bulldogs made it count.
Shortly after the second-half whistle, the Bulldogs broke open the scoring. Passing the ball back and forth while surrounded by six Dartmouth players within the Big Green’s box, midfielders Keri Cavallo ’19 and Sofia Griff ’19 were able to link up with Cavallo ultimately beating Dartmouth keeper Casey Cousineau in the 48th minute. Cavallo’s first conference goal — she now has three on the season — was also the Bulldogs’ first score in Ivy play.
Cavallo noted how great it felt to contribute, especially as a freshman, to the team’s first Ancient Eight victory this season.
“We were really hungry for our first win of Ivy League play,” Cavallo said. “It felt amazing to score for my team. For our seniors, it was the first time they have beaten Dartmouth, so it was a really special feeling to have helped win that game for them.”
Ames posted four saves to maintain her clean sheet, her fourth of the season and first of Ivy play. Dartmouth’s best chance at beating Ames came at the end of the first half, when Yale’s goalkeeper made a falling save to create an open-net opportunity for the Big Green. But left winger Lauren Lucas blasted her attempt well over the crossbar, preserving the blank scoreline.
The Bulldogs have been working hard in practice to come back from their two game deficit in the Ivy League table as they near the halfway point of the conference season. Griff said the team is finally playing to the level that they have been looking for all along, adding that it was a special bonus to contribute to the coach’s milestone victory.
“We had a shaky start to our Ivy League season, but things finally started coming together for the Dartmouth game. I think it boosted our confidence and will help us moving forward with the rest of the season,” Griff said. “It was also our coach’s 200th win, so it was great that we could help him achieve that goal on our home field.”
Meredith has been the women’s soccer coach since 1995. Over the past 21 seasons, he has established himself as the winningest coach in program history.
The Bulldogs’ next task will be conference foe Cornell, fresh off a 2–0 defeat to Harvard, at Reese Stadium next Saturday at 4 p.m.
Correction: Friday, Oct. 16: A previous version of this article mistakenly reported that Meredith is the longest-tenured women’s soccer head coach in the Ivy League.