With an eye toward next Saturday’s conference opener against reigning Ivy champion No. 25 Princeton, the Yale women’s soccer team took on Robert Morris on Sunday. The Elis brought a three-game win streak into Reese Stadium for the afternoon clash and left with the momentum needed to offset a tumultuous week for the team.
The Bulldogs (5–2–1, 0–0–0 Ivy) saw last year’s Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year Michelle Alozie ’19 go down with a season-ending injury last weekend, but maintained their winning ways on Sunday. Yale defeated the Colonials (2–8–0) 2–1 with four straight conference games on the horizon.
The Elis outshot Robert Morris 24–9 and largely dominated on the day; a lack of clinical finishing and a few mental lapses, however, meant the scoreline did not reflect the flow of play. This victory followed a comprehensive 2–0 win earlier this week against LIU Brooklyn, and heading into next weekend’s clash with Princeton, the team is falling into rhythm.
“A win is a win,” goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel ’20. “Today’s performance was not our best, but we managed to pull through, which was very important for us. We hold ourselves to a high standard: We completely dominated the game, and yet a few mistakes and lapses of focus caused the game to be more of a challenge than it should have been.”
The Bulldogs found the back of the net twice in the opening eight minutes of the game. Midfielder Noelle Higginson ’20 scored a one-touch finish in front of the Colonials’ goalkeeper, Sydney Bruckner, and Aerial Chavarin ’20 scored a nifty breakaway, giving the Elis the advantage that proved to be vital for the rest of the game.
But Yale would struggle offensively for the remainder of the game. The Elis missed the net on 16 occasions during the match, which nearly came back to haunt them when Robert Morris’ Taylor Burkley scored in the 80th minute. The final nail-biting 10 minutes then followed, with the Colonials nearly equalizing with just a minute left on the clock. RMU’s Bailey Farabaugh drifted through a Bulldog back line only to see her shot ricochet off the post.
“I think that the team was happy with the win, but in terms of overall performance we knew that we could have done better both offensively and defensively,” defender Kristen Enriquez ’21 said. “During the times that we were playing well, I think that communication among the three lines and good movement off the ball allowed us to be solid and cohesive.”
Not only against the Colonials but also versus LIU Brooklyn, the budding partnership between Saje Brar ’22 and Chavarin yielded dividends for the Elis. On Thursday, Chavarin found the net just four minutes into the game after a cross from forward Ciara Ostrander ’21, and at the beginning of the second half, Brar left her mark on the game by assisting Keri Cavallo ’19.
After conceding twice to Marist last Sunday, the team knew it was key to keep LIU Brooklyn off the scoreboard on Thursday. Despite Fagel’s strong play in goal this season, the rotating cast of players on defense has at times led to inconsistent performances. The early signs of cohesion over the last two games are promising as the team gears up to play much sterner competition in Princeton, the defending Ivy League champions.
“Princeton is a very solid team,” Fagel said. “For us to walk away with a result, we’re going to need to be on top of our game. In the back, we need to be clean: Unlike a few of our recent opponents, Princeton will be able to capitalize on our mistakes. Up top, we need to be composed on our finishing. We have created so many chances in recent games, and yet have put very few away.”
Yale takes on the Tigers next Saturday at 4 p.m.
Bill Gallagher | email@example.com
Caleb Rhodes | firstname.lastname@example.org