SteveMusco

When the referee blew the final whistle to cement the Yale women’s soccer team’s 3–0 victory over Harvard, the entire squad sprinted onto the field to celebrate a win for the ages.

The Bulldogs (7–3–1, 1–1–0 Ivy) defeated Harvard (6–5–0, 0–2–0) for the first time since 2007 and captured their first Ancient Eight win of the season. The authority the team displayed in breaking a four-game winless streak harkened back to the promising 6–0 start to the campaign. This win was the perfect antidote to a difficult loss to No. 14 Princeton (9–1–0, 2–0–0) last weekend and seems likely to propel the squad forward in conference play.

“[The win] is just crazy because [Harvard] has been the top of the Ivy League for so long,” forward Michelle Alozie ’19 said. “To finally get this win, that we really deserve, feels good. We know how we felt last game against Princeton after losing, and we know how we feel after this game after winning. We just need to take today’s mentality through the rest of our season.”

In this fixture last season, Yale took a 1–0 lead deep into the second half, but a pair of late, Harvard set-piece goals in the 74th and 81st minutes stole the victory from the Elis. This year, the Bulldogs never let up.

The Bulldogs came flying out of the gates and pressed Harvard from the start, creating a number of shooting opportunities from distance. They took the lead 26 minutes into the game, when a long ball from center back and captain Carlin Hudson ’18 found a streaking Alozie who burst through one-on-one with the keeper and deftly finished the eventual game-winner.

“This whole week we worked on connecting out of the back through the midfield and to the forwards.” Hudson said. “That allowed for our team to really attack as a whole, which allowed us to get numbers forward and succeed in the box.”

At the end of the first half, the stats reflected the Eli’s dominance: Yale outshot Harvard 8–5 and had four corners to the Crimson’s none. The offense that sputtered against Princeton gained a dynamic fluidity going forward on its home turf. Positive and confident, the Elis asserted their dominance against Harvard in a way reminiscent of their early-season performances.

The game almost changed immediately following the restart. In the 48th minute, Harvard rookie forward Lauren Raimondo broke through the backline, but saw her shot denied by an inspired save from goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel ’20. But with the ball still loose and the keeper off the line, only a desperate block prevented Harvard from equalizing. Fagel saved another one-on-one with her face later in the period, and her nine saves kept the Bulldogs in the match.

The Yale offense created numerous golden opportunities throughout the second half. In the 59th minute, Alozie burst into the box past the static Crimson defense and rang a rocket off the post that deflected behind for a corner off the keeper after another excellent ball from Hudson. Her strike partner, forward Aerial Chavarin ’20, plugged away looking to find her first goal of the season but was unable to find the net herself. Eventually her hard work paid off when she darted beyond her marker into the box and intelligently cut the ball back for midfielder Noelle Higginson ’20, who finished emphatically.

“We worked on offense every day this week because we have been having trouble scoring goals,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “But all of our attacking work in training paid off. More importantly, I’m just happy for the seniors that have never beaten Harvard. I’m happy for the seniors, and I’m happy for the team. It was a total team effort today with players off the bench contributing.”

One such contributor from the bench was first-year defender Christine Oberhausen ’21, who stabbed the ball home to seal the 3–0 shellacking in the 86th minute after midfielder Keri Cavallo ’19 struck the post with the initial effort off an exquisite free kick from midfielder Fran Steele ’19.

With Hudson marshalling the defense, Higginson bossing the midfield and Alozie leading the attack, the Elis can use this marquee win as a springboard for their campaign.

“It’s huge just mentally getting out of that scoring rut,” Higginson said. “The clean sheet and three goals are just amazing. The team feels great. We feel like we have momentum.”

The win puts Yale in a tie for fourth in the Ivy League standings.

Caleb Rhodes | caleb.rhodes@yale.edu