The Yale women’s soccer team returns from fall break with a bitter taste in its mouth, after two composed performances yielded only one win.
During this autumn recess, the Elis (9–4–2, 2–2–1 Ivy) defeated Howard University (8–9–1, 7–2–1 SWAC) 2–1 in commanding fashion. The Bulldogs had another strong game against Penn (5–6–3, 3–1–1) on Saturday, but were unable to turn the performance into a victory, losing 3–1 to the Quakers. The conference loss leaves Yale in fifth place in the Ivy League — mathematically out of contention for the Ancient Eight title.
“It was awesome that everyone got into the game against Howard,” defender Brittany Simpson ’19 said. “We have been in a lot of hard matches recently, and a lot of us have played the full 90 minutes. Having people who haven’t played [get minutes] builds our whole team’s confidence and excitement. I was happy to see an outcome that we deserve.”
And deserve the 2–1 win the Elis did. After the unfortunate draw against Cornell a week ago, the Bulldogs used the fixture against Howard to banish their memory of the Big Red. Fielding 27 players over the course of the game, Coach Rudy Meredith employed almost his entire roster and handed out a number of season debuts.
Both physically and mentally removed from the Ivy League in this non-conference matchup, Yale appeared unshackled and played with an overwhelming intensity that startled the Bison. Although the 2–1 scoreline might suggest a tight match, Yale unloaded an astounding 24 shots on target against Howard.
Strikers Michelle Alozie ’19 and Aerial Chavarin ’20 left behind their woefully inefficient shooting performances against Cornell in favor of accurate displays against Howard. Chavarin had 10 shots on goal from 11 attempts while Alozie had six from eight.
Yet it was neither of this duo who opened the scoring. Rather, Keri Cavallo ’19 — restored to the starting eleven for the first time since Sept. 17 against UMass Amherst — banged in the opener with an assist from Kristi Wharton ’20. Bison keeper Gabrille Emilien forced the Bulldogs to wait patiently for the second. Her 19 saves read more like a hockey statistic than that of soccer, leaving many in awe.
“The goalkeeper had something like 19 saves for them, which is insane,” Meredith said. “We probably should have scored a few more goals. That many saves is highly unusual in this sport. Credit to her, but I am pleased with our attack.”
Chavarin eventually netted the second and winner in the 63rd minute before a late strike from Howard’s Nolle McCullom created a nervous end to an otherwise clear victory.
Following the game in Washington D.C., Yale visited Penn in a must-win conference game. Before this match the Elis were 8–0 when scoring first, but Penn would go on to spoil that record in addition to the Bulldogs’ four-game unbeaten streak.
Outshooting the Quakers eight to four in the first half, Yale started off as the brighter of the two teams. However, in what has become an all too regular sight for the Elis this season, they entered the break stuck in a 0–0 deadlock.
Once play resumed, Alozie breathed life into a team that had looked to be on the edge of another disapointing draw. Simpson drove up from defense, deep into the attacking third, before whizzing a ground pass to Alozie. The junior rolled her defender before dispatching a clinical finish with her weak foot.
This season, Penn has played much better in conference play after an indifferent start to the fall campaign. The Quakers again found their feet against Yale, an Ivy League rival. First, junior midfielder Allie Trzaska loosed a speculative strike from distance that amazingly went bar down. That goal catalyzed a 16-minute barrage by Penn, capped off by junior forward Sasha Stephens’ brace.
“The Penn loss was incredibly disappointing,” captain Carlin Hudson ’18 said. “We dominated and should have won but weren’t able to get the result. We hit the crossbar. Some unlucky things went their way.”
The 3–1 loss will keep the Ancient Eight title out of New Haven for another year. But with a fixture against league-leader Columbia awaiting Yale next weekend, the team still has every opportunity to play a part in where the trophy ends up.
Furthermore, with two games left and nine wins so far, the Elis can still clinch their first double-digit win total since 2009.
Caleb Rhodes | firstname.lastname@example.org