The Yale women’s soccer team has emerged victorious many times against Columbia — the two teams have battled in 30 total contests, with the Bulldogs winning 19 of them. However, none of those wins have come in the past four years, with three ties and one loss for Yale making up the recent history of the matchup. To counter Columbia’s rise as a program, the Elis look to put down the Lions and add one more win to their all-time record this Saturday in New York.
Columbia head coach Tracey Bartholomew leads the Lions (6–7–1, 2–2–1 Ivy) in her second season at the helm. After her debut in 2014, the Lions finished sixth in the league — three spots off from the third-place ranking of Yale (4–8–2, 1–4–0). One year later in the 10th week of the 2015 season, the Lions and the Bulldogs have switched roles. The Elis have fallen to seventh in the league, while Columbia’s Bartholomew has coached her team to a much-improved third place ranking.
“Each coach brings a specific background, unique experience and coaching style,” goalkeeper Rachel Ames ’16 said. “Though I think Columbia is still getting accustomed to the coaching change from last year. So it will be interesting to see their developing style of play and how they’ve adapted.”
Last weekend, Columbia won in a 2–1 contest versus Dartmouth, whereas the Elis were one goal short against Penn in a 2–1 defeat. At Dartmouth, the Lions immediately began the game as a strong offensive force, scoring twice within the first 28 minutes of play.
That early offense poses a problem for the Bulldogs, who have suffered from early goals allowed throughout their recent three-game losing streak. In all three of those losses, Yale found itself with at least a one-goal deficit by halftime.
“Coach [Rudy] Meredith is emphasizing that we need to be plugged in for all 90 minutes, and that just takes a bit more focus,” captain and defender Ally Grossman ’16 said. “Having this focus from the get-go will allow us to not make the little mistakes that cost us early goals.”
Overall, however, the Bulldogs’ attack appears to be more potent compared to the Lions’. Yale has scored 1.14 goals per game this season, a figure that puts the team at a fourth place ranking in the league, while Columbia holds the last-place spot with just 0.93 goals per contest.
Of the Elis’ offense, forward Michelle Alozie ’19 is still the leader for most goals scored on the team. She will contend against Columbia’s own freshman goal leader, Emma Anderson. Alozie stands above with six goals to Anderson’s five, and 16 points to Anderson’s 12.
Alozie and the rest of Yale’s attack will face a challenge against Columbia goalkeeper Allison Spencer, who maintains an 82.8 save percentage, making her second in the Ancient Eight for saves.
“I believe that we can outperform Columbia by meshing as a team and using our depth from the bench to capitalize on our offensive chances,” Ames said.
According to defender Ana Keusch ’16, after the team watched film this week, the players went out to the field during practice to focus on defensive positioning, reading plays and connecting passes within the final third of the field.
This is the last road game of the season for Yale. If the Bulldogs manage to pull out a win against the Lions, the loss could potentially knock Columbia out of the top half of the league in the standings.
“We need to embrace that we want it more than the other team,” forward Paula Hagopian ’16 said. “Even if nothing is going our way, we can still outwork them, which will hopefully pay off.”
Yale kicks off at Columbia on Saturday at 4 p.m.