Humbled by Stanford last weekend, the Yale women’s soccer team was unable to recover its form in a winnable pair of matches this Friday and Sunday, drawing in double-overtime against Colorado College before suffering a shock loss to the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
With their Ivy League season debut against No. 20 Princeton (7–1–0, 0–0–0 Ivy) looming next weekend, the Bulldogs (6–2–1, 0–0–0) needed strong results from its last two nonconference fixtures to give them momentum. But unable to shake off last week’s streak-snapping defeat, Yale failed to turn a dominant performance against Colorado College (3–3–2, 0–0–0 SCAC) and an anemic showing against the Minutewomen (3–4–1, 0–0–0 Colonial) into positive results.
“[Having teams defend so deeply] was definitely a new thing for us,” defender Sarah McCauley ’18 said. “[It] is exciting because it means that teams now have to respect us more. That a pretty good team, [Colorado College], is sitting back in is a good compliment to us.”
Yale’s first encounter with Tiger goalkeeper Jade Odom minutes into the game set the stage for a potential offensive barrage. Midfielder Fran Steele ’19 took a corner which bounced off Odom’s readied gloves, causing a rush in front of the net which Odom eventually salvaged.
The Tigers’ defense continued to waver for much of the first half, which included a near strike by forward Michelle Alozie ’19 in the 14th minute off a poorly defended long ball. Excellent goal-line defending by a Colorado defender again denied Yale a charity goal, and the game remained scoreless.
Throughout the entire contest, the Tigers failed to control Alozie’s strength and tenacity, but in spite of the Bulldogs’ hard work, the visitors opened the scoring. Finding attacking space for the first time in the 32nd minute, Colorado switched the ball to the left wing, where a winger flashed a low cross in front of the six-yard box. Yale failed to clear the ball, and the Tigers’ sophomore forward Catie McDonald tapped in the mistake to take a serendipitous lead.
Though goal was completely against the run of play, it allowed Colorado to sit deeper into its defensive shape for the rest of the game. The Tigers’ only remaining chances on offense resulted either from misplaced passes in the Yale midfield or from quick counterattacks after Yale’s 10 corner kicks.
Yale rebounded forcefully from one such chance in the 36th minute, when the Bulldogs capitalized on a Tigers’ offsides call to restart their attack. Both sides scrambled for possession after the resulting corner before the ball eventually found McCauley, who fired in the equalizer from the top of the box.
Yale completely controlled both possession and field position for the rest of the game, but a combination of close misses and desperate defending by Colorado prevented the Bulldogs from turning their 18 shots into multiple goals.
“When we’re holding three defenders, and they are basically holding all 10 in the box it’s tough to find those gaps,” captain and defender Carlin Hudson ’18 said. “Considering we got 18 shots off, we got some things, and it’s just an inch one way or another between a different scoreboard. It was definitely a little bit frustrating not being able to break them down.”
When the game entered overtime, Yale poured numbers into attack while Colorado focused on counterattacking. After a physical overtime, the two teams walked away with the 1–1 deadlock finalized on scoreboard.
The double-overtime draw not only hurt Yale’s form but also tired its athletes ahead of Sunday’s contest against UMass. The Bulldogs entered the weekend as favorites over the Minutewomen, but nevertheless succumbed to a disappointing loss in Amherst.
Despite rotating their lineup heavily because of their exertions against Colorado — Yale drafted five new players into the starting lineup from Friday to Sunday — the Bulldogs still outshot UMass 17–13 and tallied twice as many shots on target. But once again, even though statistically dominant, Yale could not put the ball in the back of the net. A 70th minute strike by rookie forward Kelly Marra was all the Minutewomen needed to send the Elis to their first winless weekend of the season.
“Sometimes we’re getting in pressured situations where we are starting to panic a little bit,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “We need to relax and realize that we are good enough to play the ball away out of pressure and not force the ball.”
Yale will look to put its three-game winless streak to rest against Princeton on Saturday.
Caleb Rhodes | firstname.lastname@example.org