Although the turf at the newly renovated Reese Field proved testy at times, in the end it posed no challenge for the Yale women’s soccer team. The Bulldogs won their first home game of the season 3–2 against Marist.
After a five-game road trip, which resulted in two wins and a draw, one might have hoped for an easy homecoming. Such hopes evaporated when the Red Foxes scored a mere nine minutes into the first half.
“Today’s game was a huge test for our team,” goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel ’20 said. “It was our first home game of the season and only our second time stepping foot on Reese this year. It’s never easy to go down 1–0 so early in the game.”
Nevertheless, the Bulldogs’ lack of experience on the new field caused the team to quickly fall by the wayside. Midfielder Noelle Higginson ’20 responded for the home squad in the 18th minute, finishing off a move started by Saje Brar ’22 from a corner kick.
Higginson was again in the mix when Yale took the lead midway through the first half. Her free kick from twenty yards out was saved by Marist goalkeeper Francesca Guzzo, but landed at the feet of midfielder Fran Steele ’19 who steered the ball home.
“At times we were way too sloppy on the ball,” Higginson said.
A sloppy moment proved to be decisive when Marist equalized three minutes from halftime. After the Bulldogs failed to clear a corner, the Red Foxes’ Hope Quinonez scored a screamer from 25 yards out that struck the inside of the post and bounced in. The Elis found themselves tied 2–2 at the half.
For much of the second period, Yale seemed as though they would be unable to capitalize on their superior play. A well-drilled Marist defense proved difficult to break down until six minutes from full-time. Higginson cleanly won possession before threading the ball to Alexandra McCraven ’21. The Bulldogs’ number 13 then crossed to Brar, who finished off the phase of play with an athletic half-volley.
“After going undefeated at home last year, our team was extremely motivated to continue the streak,” Fagel said. “The fact that we had three different goal scorers, from three different classes, really shows the depth of our team this season. Our whole team was thrilled to get the win.”
Despite the morale-boosting victory, the Bulldogs took some hard hits during the game. Forward Michelle Alozie ’19 and defender Christine Oberhausen ’21 both suffered injuries in the testy encounter.
The Elis have seen injuries mount early on this season, beginning with captain Brittany Simpson ’19 who tore her Achilles tendon. First years Alexandra Otterstrom ’22 and Emily Clorite ’22 both join her on the sidelines for the year. Fallon Sheridan ’19 and midfielders Sarah Jordan ’21 and Reina Bonta ’21 should be back by the start of the Ivy season.
“You are always concerned about injuries,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “In the back of your mind you have to plan on not having those players. Other people are going to have to step up, but we still have time before Princeton [Yale’s first Ivy League game] to get everything settled.”
The team now shifts its focus to Thursday’s home game against LIU Brooklyn.
The Bulldogs will see a familiar face on the bench of the Blackbirds: Former assistant coach Eleri Earnshaw will serve as the opposition’s head coach.
“She is a great coach and has a great soccer mind,” Meredith said. “They are a very good defensive team and scoring will be quite hard. We will have to earn every shot.”
The Elis look to mitigate the injury pileup and create a solid backbone for the team in time for the Ivy League opener against Princeton.
The Bulldogs will take on the Tigers at Reese Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22.
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