An offensive firestorm in late August has propelled the Yale women’s soccer team to three victories in as many matches, marking just the Bulldogs’ second 3–0 start in the past seven seasons.
On a sweltering Friday when temperatures cracked 90 degrees, the Elis utilized a late game-winning goal to defeat Bryant 2–1 in their season opener before rolling over Sacred Heart on Sunday with a 4–0 victory. On Wednesday, despite a more tepid start than in its Sunday blowout, Yale erupted late for a slew of goals, defeating Stony Brook by another 4–0 margin.
Just a week into their 2016 season, the Bulldogs have outscored their opponents 10–1, and six different players have scored.
“This year our play is much more our own — we have our own identity,” midfielder Geneva Decker ’17 said. “We’ve been practicing our own formation that really suits our players individually. I think that’s a testament to our success thus far.”
It was a tight match all the way through on Friday against Bryant. Though Yale found the back of the net early on a goal from midfielder Keri Cavallo ’19, the Bulldogs were unable to put the game away in the second half. In the 67th minute, Bryant midfielder Alison Guilmette scored off of a free kick to level the match.
That 1–1 score lasted into the early evening, and an opening draw seemed all but certain. But forward Aerial Chavarin ’20 found one last chance in the 89th minute.
“Captain Colleen [McCormack ’17] won the ball around midfield, and I knew she was bound to play it over the top,” Chavarin said. “I began my run, sure to stay onside, and her perfect ball dropped right between Michelle’s [Alozie ’19] and my feet. Michelle and I had a ‘mini-conversation’ on the field about who would be the one to take the shot. She pointed at me and I went for it.”
Fittingly on freshman move-in day, it was a freshman who saved the match for the Bulldogs. Chavarin’s shot into the right corner evaded Bryant goalie Kaylan Conrad by a matter of inches, giving Yale a solid opening win.
No last-minute heroics were needed on Sunday, when three Elis combined for four goals in an evisceration of Sacred Heart.
Alozie, midfielder Sofia Griff ’19 and forward Karina Kovalcik ’17 each scored in the first half, quickly putting the game out of reach. In the 61st minute, Alozie scored again to put the Bulldogs up 4–0.
“If you look at the stats, I thought that we dominated the game more in the Bryant game [than against Sacred Heart],” Yale head coach Rudy Meredith said. “But I think we took more chances on goal against Sacred Heart. You can attribute the closeness of the Bryant game to first game jitters. In the second game, we were more ready. You’ll see that trend continue throughout the season.”
Wednesday night’s match against Stony Brook, though it ended with the same score, showed less outright dominance from the Yale squad. The offensive onslaught exhibited against Sacred Heart was missing early on, replaced instead by a cautious attack strategy focused more on possession.
After heading into halftime up 1–0 on a goal from Chavarin, Yale was able to up its intensity towards the end of the match. In the 74th minute, forward and midfielder Sarah McCauley ’18 placed a beautiful shot just under the crossbar to go up 2–0. In the 83rd and 89th minutes, Griff twice found the net, turning what had been a close contest into a blowout.
Though a 3–0 start certainly makes for an impressive start to a season, Meredith refused to stay complacent ahead of the Ivy League season. Yale began last year’s campaign 3–2 before posting just a 1–6 record in conference play.
“We can’t give up bad goals,” Meredith said. “If we can continue to curate quality goal-scoring opportunities, that’s going to be great. But being solid on defense is critical because these other teams will make you pay for your mistakes.”
The Bulldogs will continue their season on Friday against St. John’s. The contest — Yale’s fourth straight home game — will be played at 7 p.m. inside Reese Stadium.