With a second overtime period beckoning as the clock ticked toward the 100th minute, forward Aerial Chavarin ’20 rocketed a deadly left-footed strike into the upper left corner of the net to lead the Yale women’s soccer team to victory over Dartmouth.
The Elis (8–3–1, 2–1–0 Ivy) locked up their second consecutive conference win and moved up to third in the table after defeating the Big Green (5–7–0, 0–3–0) 2–1 at home. Although they did not produce the same marauding performance they did against Harvard, the Bulldogs still secured the victory to capitalize on Penn’s loss to Columbia and remain just three points off joint-leaders No. 11 Princeton and Columbia.
“The problem [was] with both teams playing the same [3–5–2] formation, there was not a lot of room, not a lot of tactical two-[on]-one situations,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “Everybody [was] matched up so it’s almost like a one-on-one situation all over the field. [I]t’s difficult to get into any kind of offensive rhythm, especially in the midfield because half of each team, 10 people, were in there.”
The congestion in the midfield stifled play from both teams in the first half. Yale’s best chance came in the seventh minute after the Dartmouth defense displayed a shocking lack of awareness when dealing with a long ball. Forward Michelle Alozie ’19 stole the ball off the foot of the center back but could not bring it under control before Dartmouth goalkeeper Mariel Gordon pounced.
A few minutes later, the Big Green almost opened the scoring. Star midfielder Remy Borinsky wriggled through the box and released wide player Gia Parker who forced an excellent save from Yale goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel ’20, although the play was ruled offside.
Neither team produced much for the rest of the period, but the Bulldogs conceded field position and allowed unfavored Dartmouth to dictate play. As the half drew to a close, the Big Green had one more big chance. One of Dartmouth’s six corners found Borinsky, whose shot and follow up required a goal-line clearance and a save from Fagel.
Although Yale found itself tied on the scoreboard and in shots with five at the half, Dartmouth seemed the likelier of the two to open the scoring. The Big Green were winning the midfield battle and preventing midfielder Noelle Higginson ’20 from getting the ball, effectively killing the Bulldogs’ attack from the roots.
“We don’t normally play against people who match up with us in the same formation,” Higginson said. “Most of the team isn’t that happy with the way we played. I think we could have — despite the fact they were playing the same formation — played a lot better than we did, but I think it shows that we are willing to fight and do whatever we can to win the league this year, to eek out a win despite not playing our best.”
The Elis began the second half with the same lineup, but their forwards appeared more dynamic coming out of the locker room. In the 54th minute, a fantastic, curling cross from Chavarin on the right wing met Alozie’s awaiting forehead. Gordon almost kept the header out, but the sheer power of the shot forced the ball into the net for the game’s first goal.
For Dartmouth, Borinsky continued to lead the way while set pieces continued to provide the opportunities. In the 62nd minute, Borinsky’s free kick found rookie defender Bonnie Shea who headed the ball into the top right corner after Fagel was unable to claim the cross.
In a final push to avoid overtime and win in regulation, Meredith substituted on attacking midfielder Sarah Jordan ’21 and moved Higginson into a deeper midfield role. Although Yale created opportunities in the dying minutes of the game, the full-time whistle sounded with nothing to separate the two.
Chavarin, who in recent weeks has edged closer and closer to getting her first goal of the season, led the Elis’ offensive push in overtime. Her strong running and dribbling unsettled the Big Green’s defense. For her game-winning, golden goal, she cut the ball back in the box leaving all three centre backs in the dust before blasting a left-footed thunderbolt into the top corner, just inside the near post.
“[The goal] was really exciting,” Chavarin said. “I give all the credit to my teammates. We really fought through the entire game to get the final goal, and I’m just really happy.”
The Bulldogs will host their third straight home Ivy game next weekend when Cornell comes to town on Saturday.
Caleb Rhodes | email@example.com