Courtesy of Yale Athletics

Following a four-win 2015 campaign, the Yale women’s soccer team scorched through the beginning of the 2016 season, rolling to a 3–0 record in August while outscoring opponents 10–1. But with September’s arrival came new challenges, as the Bulldogs lost for the first time this season in the first of two games this past weekend.

The Elis (3–1–1, 0–0 Ivy) played host to undefeated St. John’s (4–0–2, 0–0 Big East) on Friday, and could not overcome an early goal and some second-half insurance, falling 2–0 to the reigning Big East champion. Two days later, the Bulldogs battled Iona (0–5–1, 0–0 MAAC) in a double-overtime odyssey at Reese Stadium but were unable to secure a win in an eventual 1–1 tie, with the lone goal coming off the foot of forward Aerial Chavarin ’20.

“Taking into account that it is still early in our season, our team is looking great,” goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel ’20 said. “That said, there is always room for improvement, especially when it comes to communication and efficiency in the final third. Everybody is so determined to do well this year so I’m optimistic that these final details will come together soon.”

Facing a Red Storm team ranked as high as No. 17 in the nation last season, the Bulldogs’ underdog status was compounded by a series of unlucky and untimely bounces. Just over six minutes into the match, St. John’s attacker Samie Scaffidi rifled a shot past Fagel, off the left post and in to seize an early lead.

The Bulldogs were again hindered by the post on their first opportunity to equalize. Yale’s first shot of the match, a blast by forward Michelle Alozie ’19 20 minutes in, evaded St. John’s goalkeeper Diana Poulin but ricocheted off the left upright and skittered away from the net.

The game remained in a 1–0 limbo until St. John’s struck again in the second half. With just under a half hour to play, the Red Storm capitalized off of a blocked shot by Yale goalkeeper Jane Buckley ’20, who entered the game for the second half. St. John’s midfielder Claudia Cagnina collected her own rebound and delivered her first goal of the season. The Bulldogs could not muster a comeback, as the robust Red Storm defense held the Elis without a shot for the remainder of the game.

“Our main takeaways from playing St. John’s were that we need to always keep our composure and concentration, and that we need to play a lot faster,” forward Karina Kovalcik ’17 said. “We weren’t quick on taking our game to them, so they set the pace early and we were chasing them the entire game.”

Yale, playing on Sunday with hopes of halting its losing streak at one game, found itself in another early hole against Iona. The Gaels scored on their first shot of the game in the 17th minute, collecting a saved shot by the third Yale goalkeeper of the weekend, Maritza Grillo ’19, and depositing it in the net for a 1–0 lead. All three keepers saw time in the Sunday matinee, which was Yale’s fifth game in 10 days.

Yale responded with an onslaught of offensive attempts to round out the first half, with six Bulldogs peppering Iona goalkeeper Tiffany Martinez with a combined 11 shots on goal in the half. Nevertheless, the scoreline remained in Iona’s favor at the break.

Martinez’s defensive prowess did not falter until the 87th minute, when midfielder Keri Cavallo ’19 fired a pass down the field to Chavarin, who outraced an Iona defender and snuck the game-tying goal past Martinez. Chavarin leads the team in assists and is tied for first with midfielder Sofia Griff ’19 in goals, at three apiece.

Though the Bulldogs evaded defeat in the late stages of regulation, they could not break through again in extra time despite outshooting the Gaels 5–1 in the two 10-minute overtime periods. When the final whistle blew, Yale had outshot Iona 30–3.

“We wish that we scored more … but I think we were also exhausted because it was our fifth game in 10 days,” defender Carlin Hudson ’18. “Had we played them fresh, we would have been stronger completing the smaller tasks to let us score more.”

Yale will next face Colgate at home before traveling to take on Vermont on Sunday.

Sports Editor for the Yale Daily News and the Down The Field sports blog.