The Yale women’s soccer team secured another marquee win with a dominant 2–0 win against a strong University of Miami Hurricanes squad at Reese Stadium this past Friday night.
The Bulldogs (5–0–0, 0–0–0 Ivy) entered the game knowing that a fourth win would constitute their best start since 2004. Furthermore, having already secured a victory against nationally-ranked University of Connecticut, a win against Miami (3–2–0, 0–0–0 Atlantic Coast) would represent a statement of intent for the rest of the season. After dispatching the Hurricanes, the Elis survived a late comeback from Hofstra Monday night but, thanks to a late overtime strike from forward Lydia Shaw ’21, maintained their unblemished record.
“The win over Miami solidifies our confidence in our UConn win and proves to us and to others that beating UConn wasn’t a fluke and that our team is consistently good,” captain and defender Carlin Hudson ’18 said. “A championship team has to take care of business every game and not let down, and that’s what this team has done so far.”
Yale started the game in its 3–5–2 formation while Miami began with a 4–3–3. The extra women in midfield prevented the Hurricanes from getting into any sort of passing rhythm, and Yale seemed well prepared to contain the favored visitors from Florida. The Hurricanes looked taken aback by the ferocity of the Elis’ pressing and the lack of space in which their midfield could operate.
Miami’s lack of control in the midfield unsettled their defense, who failed repeatedly to close down Yale attackers in the opening minutes. The Elis seized a golden opportunity to take the lead early on when an attempted flick from forward Michelle Alozie ’19 struck the outstretched arm of a Miami defender in the box, gifting an early eighth-minute penalty to the Bulldogs. Midfielder Noelle Higginson ’20 subsequently put the ball in the back of the net.
“[The early goal] was huge,” Higginson said. “You never want to be the team chasing a game, and it’s really good for calming everyone down especially at the beginning of a game when everything’s a bit hectic. But at the same time you can’t let it calm you down to the point where you get careless or overconfident … we’ve done a really good job of keeping our cool and building our confidence in every game.”
However, as the half wore on, the Hurricanes began to dominate possession as Yale resorted to speculative long balls from the defense to the forwards, bypassing the midfield that had proven so tactically important to start the game. But Miami failed to turn its possession into any truly threatening moments, as the Eli defense continued its early-season success.
After the penalty, the first half truly lacked action, and the Elis put the game to bed early in the second half when Alozie netted her third goal of the season in the 54th minute. From there, the Bulldogs’ defense continued to keep Miami at bay, ultimately securing their third clean sheet this season.
The defeat of Miami builds off the season-opening success against UConn to establish Yale as a legitimate force and Ivy League title contender. The team showcased depth, finding solid offensive and defensive contributions from a variety of players beyond the starting 11, and has seen a number of rookies enjoy sparkling starts to their soccer careers, especially Shaw and forward Sarah Jordan ’21.
“The key to our success has been work ethic,” Higginson said. “Tactics and everything else plays a part but it all sort of falls apart if you’re not willing to work harder than the other team. And knowing that we have incredible players coming off the bench who are going to work just as hard, if not harder than whoever’s starting, is a good feeling.”
Yale did not quite maintain that same level of performance against Hofstra, but Shaw’s decisive intervention ensured the Bulldogs still emerged with maximum points. The Pride took a first-half lead, but forward Ciara Ostrander ’21 scored her first career goal to draw her team level. Higginson whipped home a free kick to put Yale ahead just moments later, but a Hofstra equalizer sent the game to overtime.
In double overtime, Shaw found a yard of space in the area off a pass from Ostrander and slotted home to hand the Elis their fifth consecutive victory.
The Bulldogs head to California this weekend on a road trip to face the University of the Pacific and Stanford.
Contact Chris Bracken at firstname.lastname@example.org and Caleb Rhodes at email@example.com .