With a 1–0 victory over Brown, the Yale women’s soccer team clinched its 11th victory of the season, securing its first double-digit win season since 2009.
The win allowed the Elis (11–4–2, 4–2–1 Ivy) to leapfrog the Bears (11–5–0, 4–3–0) in the standings and finish the campaign in an impressive third place with 13 points, their highest position since 2011. This season represents a marked improvement over the team’s sixth-placed finishes in 2015 and 2016. Additionally, for the second year in a row, a stunning upset victory against undefeated Columbia (9–5–2, 5–1–1) in the penultimate fixture of the season allowed another rival, in this case No. 13 Princeton (14–2–0, 6–1–0), to steal in and claim the title.
“This season as a whole was the best I’ve played in,” defender Brittany Simpson ’19 said. “We started 6–0 and made history, and although we hit some bumps along the way, we showed we can come back from them by beating teams like Columbia and Brown. Our performances and improvement this year were shocking to other teams. We showed that we are a dangerous team to play against.”
The Yale women’s soccer team exited Reese Stadium this past Saturday with heads held high and smiles wide after securing their final win of the 2017-18 season. In the spirit of senior day, the Bulldogs’ lineup spotlighted all eight senior players in celebration of their contributions to the team. Aria Pearlman Morales ’18, Taylor Hobbs ’18 and Mara Blumenstein ’18 all made their first starts of the season and contributed to the win while the game also featured a brief appearance by team manager Maggie Furlong ’18, who suffered a career-ending injury in her sophomore year.
The first 45 minutes equated to a mellow, cagey affair of low risk and low reward. Yielding only eight collective shots from both teams, without any golden opportunities, the teams entered the locker room deadlocked at zero. The Elis regrouped at the break and stepped up in the second half to clinch a late win.
In the 81st minute, forward Michelle Alozie ’19 sunk her ninth goal of the season from the top of the box to rocket her team to the win. Defensively, defender and captain Carlin Hudson ’18 played the full 90 minutes of her final game, leading a backline that allowed the Bears only three shots on goal, all of which were stopped by goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel ’20.
After the goal, the Bears amped up the intensity in their search for an equalizer. In response, the Elis parked the bus in hopes of seeing out the game. While Brown was able to craft a few opportunities, Yale weathered the storm to secure the win.
The Brown game proved a fitting end to a campaign built on leadership and heart. While much of the team’s core — like Fagel, Simpson, midfielder Noelle Higginson ’20 and Michelle Alozie ’19 — will don the blue-and-white kits again come next fall, the loss of eight seniors deprives the team of some key personalities. The biggest loss of them all is certainly Hudson.
“Carlin is irreplaceable,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “She is one of my hall of fame captains. She will be impossible to replace. However, we have the bulk of our players back for next year, which is exciting because that continuity is important.”
On the field, Hudson organized a defense that kept seven clean sheets this season. From her position at center back, she helped form the foundation of the team.
Her passing range from the back also helped the team transition from defense into attack. Hudson proved just as adept at sliding short passes into the midfield as at spraying precise long balls to wide players and forwards.
“I hope we are remembered as one of teams that turned around the focus of the program,” Hudson said. “In the past, the team has always been really close, but not the most intense. This season was a turning point in that, and I hope we continue to build on that progress. I hope that the 2017 season is known as the year that started the general success of Yale women’s soccer.”
Indeed, while a coating of leaves begins to obscure the lines of the field and the din and roar of competition fade into memory, the players can rest easy knowing they were part of the best women’s soccer team this decade at Yale.
“We are still building the legacy of this team,” Alozie said. “Right now our hard work is our legacy, and we are definitely still a comeback team. Hopefully, when we win our Ivy Championship next year, we can cement our legacy.”
Yale last won the Ivy League in 2005.
Lauren Cueto | firstname.lastname@example.org
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