The Yale women’s soccer team defeated Harvard for the first time since 2007 this past Saturday. In the 82nd minute, forward Noelle Higginson ’20 found the back of the net to put Yale up by two and ice the historic victory. Higginson now has four goals to her name this season and ranks second on the team in scoring behind forward Michelle Alozie ’19. With six games to play, the Bulldogs have already exceeded their win total from the last two seasons and are contending for their first Ivy title since 2005. Higginson’s emergence has been crucial to the offense’s success this year. The News caught up with the sophomore ahead of this weekend’s fixture with Dartmouth:
Q: After beginning the season with a historic 6–0 start, the team struggled recently, falling to Stanford, Massachusetts and Princeton before heading into the Harvard game. What was the team’s biggest focus against Harvard, and how did you execute the plan to gain the 3–0 win?
A: We focused a lot in practice the week before, mostly on offense because in the first six games we did really well defensively and offensively, but then in the games after that we really struggled scoring goals and, I think, didn’t score in 3 games. We focused on finishing our chances when we got them, which translated well into the game. The second half of Princeton, despite the score line, we were actually pressuring them a lot and not just finishing chances.
Q: You scored one of Yale’s three goals in Saturday night’s game, can you take us through that?
A: It went wide. I don’t remember who played it to [forward] Aeriel [Chavarin ’20], but she had it out wide, and I made a run in. [Midfielder] Keri [Cavallo ’19] made a well-timed run so I was wide open without a defender, Aeriel found me and it was a pretty easy finish from there. That goal was important because they were pressuring at that point, and you never want just … one goal lead, but after the second goal that was that.
Q: Your teammate, defender Christine Oberhausen ’21, scored just a couple of minutes after you to finalize the shutout over the Crimson and was named Rookie of the Week this week. This is Yale’s third Ivy League Rookie of the Week this season. What do you think it says about the strengths of the class of 2021?
A: It’s great obviously that they’re getting recognition they deserve. They’re a strong class. I think for that goal Christina had just come off the bench, and it’s really important for us as a team to have people who may not be starting but will still come into the game and have an equal impact on the game if not more [than] the starters. Not only because we need that we need that depth on the squad, but also I think it’s good for starters to have a little bit of competition for their starting spot, and that can just be a little added motivation that’s really, really important and the freshmen are providing that and earning spots and playing time. So that’s good.
Q: The next two weekends women’s soccer takes on Dartmouth and Cornell, what are the biggest takeaways from your first two Ivy games on how to best prepare for these next ones?
A: I think we need to continue what we’re doing. Despite the loss to Princeton, it was definitely improvement playing-wise from what we had done the week before, and then obviously Harvard was another step forward. So if we continue in that vain we should be good. And just being careful not to get too cocky, because generally Princeton and Harvard are two of the powerhouses of the league, so not taking anyone else for granted … pretending each game is a rivalry game like that.
Q: At a little past the midway point of the season, what are the team’s goals for the remainder of the season and also what do you hope to accomplish looking ahead to the rest of your sophomore campaign?
A: We definitely still believe that we can win the Ivy League. Obviously, we would need Princeton to lose a game or maybe tie a couple but we’re gonna just do as much as we can. We’ll try to win the rest of the games and, if not win the league, finish second hopefully and see what happens after that. See if we can get a bid to the NCAA tournament. For me personally, obviously I just want the team to do as well as we can.
Jane Miller | firstname.lastname@example.org