Coming off of a dramatic victory against Columbia that knocked the Lions from the Ivy League summit, the Yale women’s soccer team travels to Providence to face Brown in their final match of the season.
The Bulldogs (6–6–3, 2–3–1 Ivy) will attempt to vanquish an opponent perched above them in the table for the second consecutive week. A victory over the third-place Bears (8–2–5, 3–1–2) could catapult them into the top half of the final league standings and secure the program’s highest league win total since 2011.
“We want to finish fourth in the league,” captain and defender Colleen McCormack ’17 said. “We want a win. We want to finish above 0.500. We’re always looking to improve.”
Last week, the Elis shocked Columbia, a sterling 4–0 in league play to that point, with a 2–1 overtime victory. Forward Michelle Alozie ’19 struck a dramatic equalizer with just 12 seconds remaining on the clock, forcing an extra period of play. The indomitable Lions backline, which had been mere seconds away from securing an eighth consecutive shutout, was breached again moments later. Just three minutes into overtime, midfielder Geneva Decker ’17, playing in her final game at Reese Stadium, raced onto a through ball from forward Aerial Chavarin ’20, and slotted the ball into the bottom corner.
The victory stopped a two-game skid for Yale and kept the team tied for fifth with defending champion and Ivy top-scorer Princeton at seven points. Fourth-place Penn clings on to a one-point margin lead over the Bulldogs.
“The win against Columbia not only showed how our team can come back from a deficit, but also that we can compete with the teams at the top of the league,” midfielder Keri Cavallo ’19 said. “We are confident going into the Brown game but give them the respect they deserve as they have had a good season thus far. We are hungry to win to finish out our season on a positive note with a victory this weekend.”
Brown drew last week with the Quakers, a 1–1 overtime result that eliminated the Bears (11 points) from Ivy League title contention, with league-leading Harvard (14 points) and Columbia (13 points) set to contest the title head-to-head this weekend. Brown has enjoyed a remarkably consistent season, losing to the two teams ahead of them in the table, tying the team immediately below them and beating three of the four teams in the bottom half. The Bears have already surpassed their 10-point total from last season, and they have a chance to better their third place finish a year ago.
However, Brown struggles offensively at times. The Bears have netted multiple goals on only three occasions this season and have been shutout five times. This year, they have averaged exactly one goal a game, with 15 goals in 15 games. Senior midfielder Carly Gould leads Brown in assists with four, and her three goal tally matches sophomore forward Celia Story for the team lead.
Like Columbia, Brown’s strength comes at the defensive end. The Bears have conceded only seven goals the entire season and shut out nine opponents. Under first-year head coach Kia McNeill, the Brown defense has conceded 15 fewer goals then last season and will return its starting back four and keeper next year.
Fortunately for the fans, with the Yale offense on the pitch, it appears unlikely that the match will end in Brown’s fourth scoreless draw this season. The Elis have only drawn a blank twice this year and have scored 23 times in total, led by Chavarin’s team-leading total of nine.
The two best defensive teams in the league, Columbia and Harvard, have conceded just four conference goals combined this season — three of which were scored by Yale. The Bulldogs know just how to deal with accomplished defenses. The Eli attack averages just under 15 shots per match, so the Bear backline can expect a busy afternoon.
Saturday’s match also marks the final collegiate appearance for the Yale seniors, who have a chance to make this their best league campaign of their careers.
“It is also the last game for our five amazing seniors, and there is nothing we all want more than for them to end their college careers with an exciting win,” goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel ’20 said. “As a freshman, I could not have asked for a better senior class to look up to. They bring so much to our amazing team dynamic and are truly an inspiration for the rest of the girls on the team.”
Yale kicks off against Brown at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.