After a triumphant return to a recently-renovated Reese Stadium with a 3–2 win over Marist, the Yale women’s soccer team looks to continue its recent run of good form at home against LIU Brooklyn this Thursday.
Yale (3–2–1) showed great resolve against Marist (2–2–1) to come back from 1–0 down early on. Forward Saje Brar ’22 continued her excellent start to life as a Bulldogs by scoring the winner and combining well with fellow goalscorer midfielder Noelle Higginson ’20 and forward Aerial Chavarin ’20. That relationship will be key on Thursday versus LIU (2–4–1) after the Elis lost two more players to injury in defender Christine Oberhausen ’21 and reigning offensive player of the year Michelle Alozie ’19.
“We are so excited to play LIU on Thursday,” goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel ’20 said. “Their heach coach, Eleri, used to be our assistant coach, and she’s great. For that reason, we know that they are well-trained and will enter the match with some knowledge on how to play us.”
Eleri Earnshaw is in her second year as the Blackbirds coach, after serving as an assistant for two seasons at Yale. Earnshaw’s resume includes playing professionally with Arsenal Ladies in England. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs face an LIU side that has struggled in its first seven games. The team’s only wins have come at home against Saint Peter’s and Iona. Road matches have proven to be tough, conceding an average of 2.75 goals and scoring an average of 0.75 times a game.
Despite the early struggles, the Blackbird squad is dangerous and capable of capitalizing on mistakes. Forward Marian Awad scored a hat trick in LIU’s 5–2 home win over St Peter’s. Another of LIU’s strikers, Josie Watson, also proved her ability on the ball with two assists in the same game.
“We just need to play smarter and play harder than they do,” Higginson said.
The Elis will have to continue to develop chemistry without an integral contributor: captain and defender Brittany Simpson ’19 is out for the season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon. A pair of first years, defender Alexandra Otterstrom ’22 and forward Emily Clorite ’22, had their inaugural seasons cut short, as well. Meanwhile, midfielders Sarah Jordan ’21 and Reina Bonta ’21, both of whom provided significant contributions last year, are gunning for a return at the beginning of Ivy league play.
Despite early concerns about the season ahead, the squad is confident in its ability to overcome this challenge.
“We have a strong squad all round with a lot of flexibility,” midfielder Fran Steele ’19 said. “I’m sure we will be able to deal with whatever happens.”
After a long road stint, the Bulldogs have started to find their feet at home. Although the presence of lacrosse lines on the pitch initially caused confusion about where the end lines were during the game against Marist, the team played with resilience and verve in front of the home crowd. With injuries continuing to plague the squad, the upcoming suite of fixtures at home provides an ideal opportunity for the Elis to regroup ahead of the all-important match against Princeton to open the Ivy League season. Along with LIU, the Bulldogs play Robert Morris University before their conference schedule commences.
“[LIU] will bring another battle both physically and mentally,” Steele said. “[This] will be great preparation for the Ivy League.”
Yale’s game against the Blackbirds is also the first installment of Yale Athletics’ promotion to ensure access to presale tickets for the Yale-Harvard football game at Fenway. For this reason, both attendance and interest in the game may be higher than normal.
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