Courtesy of Steve Musco
Despite starting the season with an impressive 5–2–1 record, the Yale women’s soccer team has struggled.
The Bulldogs dropped two in a row to open up conference play, including a 3–0 and 1–0 defeat against Princeton and Harvard, respectively. A major factor in this dry spell has been a stagnant offense, which has gone 217 minutes without finding a goal.
This year, the Elis (5–4–1, 0–2 Ivy) faced the challenge of replacing last year’s goal-scoring machine, striker Michelle Alozie ’19 who was injured early in the season. Alozie’s loss left a big void to fill on offense. Last year, she scored nine goals during conference play — an accolade which earned her awards such as the Ivy League Co-Offensive Player of the Year and a spot on the All-Ivy First Team. Nevertheless, the emergence of the offensive triumvirate of midfielder Noelle Higginson ’20 alongside strikers Aerial Chavarin ’20 and Saje Brar ’22 seemed to be the answer. The trio scored eight goals combined in their first octet of games but have yet to find the net in conference play.
“I think that communication among the three lines and good movement off the ball allowed us to be solid and cohesive,” defender Kristen Enriquez ’21 said after the Bulldogs’ most recent win against Robert Morris.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the situation has only gotten tougher. The christening of their conference slate against No. 21 Princeton may have damaged the still-developing chemistry between the front three. Although Yale was able to create some offensive chances against the Tigers — such as a strong Chavarin header that needed saving and a shot from forward Ciara Ostrander ’21 that clipped the crossbar — the team found it challenging to consistently produce goal-threatening opportunities.
Against Harvard, this disappointing trend only continued. While the Elis did create chances, including a noticeable spell at the end of the first half where they tallied four shots on goal, the Bulldogs ultimately failed to find the net against the Crimson in the one-goal, shutout loss for Yale.
“We are creating a decent number of chances per game,” Chavarin said after the loss to Harvard. “In order to capitalize on these chances, we need to have focus and composure every time we are around the goal. Definitely easier said than done, but if we focus on having that composure around the goal this week in practice, I think we can convert our offensive chances in games.”
The team is trying to build up its chemistry — a factor it is sorely lacking — following early medical hardship. An injury-blighted campaign so far has claimed not only Alozie but also captain and defender Brittany Simpson ’19 among others. The Bulldogs look to improve their cohesiveness in games by capitalizing on promising scoring opportunities in practice.
In addition, improved chemistry should translate to more chances for the strikers to get on the scoreboard.
“I think players are still learning to play with one another,” goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel ’20 said. “If we are able to create clear chances, I am confident in our ability to put them away. Right now, the issue has just been producing clear goal-scoring chances, which is not a problem our team has faced in the past.”
The Elis look to reverse their offensive fortunes this Saturday on the road against Dartmouth.
Billy Gallagher | firstname.lastname@example.org .