The Yale women’s soccer team will walk onto the Reese Stadium turf one last time this year in its Saturday matchup against Brown.
This Ivy contest concludes the season for the Bulldogs. And for the seven seniors on the team, this game will be the final time that they will get to don the Yale jersey. Recently, Brown (6–7–2, 2–3–1 Ivy) is coming off a two-game winning streak, while the Elis (4–9–2, 1–5–0) sunk to four consecutive losses last weekend. With home-field advantage on their side for their Senior Day, in addition to the support from fellow students and families, the seven seniors are looking to lead their team to one last win for the 2015 season.
“Brown is typically an underrated team in the Ivy League,” captain and defender Ally Grossman ’16 said. “They do not have a standout offensive threat like Princeton and Harvard do, but they manage to compete with high-level teams and do well in the league, as well.”
To date, the Elis have scored 17 goals this season to Brown’s 16, placing the two teams at fifth and sixth in the league, respectively. Defense has been the Achilles’ heel for both squads, as the Bears are seventh in the league with 21 goals allowed, while the Bulldogs are behind in last place with 30 goals scored against them.
Yale’s offensive powerhouse forward Michelle Alozie ’19 and midfielder Sofia Griff ’19 will seek to steal some goals past Brown goalkeeper Christine Etzel ’19. All three freshmen have started 14 of 15 games for their respective teams. Yale will need to capitalize on its opportunities against Etzel, who is second in the league with an 83.7 save percentage and was named Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Week on Monday for the second time this season.
“Brown is a well coached team,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “This is their coach’s [Phil Pincince] 39th year in the program. He gets his team well-prepared and tries to exploit the opposing team’s weaknesses.”
The Bears are tied for fourth in the Ivy League with Cornell, three slots ahead of the Bulldogs’ last-place standing alongside Dartmouth. Nevertheless, even after this weekend of competition, movement within the rankings will not affect the ultimate Ivy League champion, as Princeton has already won the conference with 18 points.
Despite Brown’s edge over Yale in overall league record, the Elis did win against the Bears 2–1 in last year’s game. Both of Yale’s two goals were scored in the first 26 minutes of the matchup — one of which was assisted by Grossman. In total, the Bulldog seniors have won two out of the three trials that they have opposed the Bears.
Meredith noted that he has been very happy with practice this past week because his players have maintained a high intensity and level of competitiveness for every session. He even got out on the field to contribute to the play, and the Bulldogs took him on with confidence, Meredith said.
“We are focusing on just having fun, as it is our last game ever,” midfielder Shannon Conneely ’16 said.
Regardless of the result Saturday, goalkeeper Rachel Ames ’16 noted that she reflects positively on the development of Yale’s squad over the last three months. From preseason in late August to this last game, she believes she and her fellow Bulldogs have evolved exponentially during this season’s ups and downs.
This season, the Elis have challenged two strong teams in the nation’s top-50 rankings, endured five consecutive games on the road and turned around after a two-game losing streak to win against fellow Ancient Eight foe Dartmouth.
“The team has grown extremely close this season,” Ames said. “A lot of freshmen got valuable playing experience, and the team was able to try out different formations and strategies in various situations.”
Yale kicks off against Brown at 4 p.m. at Reese Stadium on Saturday.