Courtesy of Steve Musco

Looking to rebound from a two-game losing streak to start conference play, the Yale women’s soccer team faces off against a dark-horse Dartmouth team this Saturday.

For Yale to have any chance of claiming the Ivy League title, it must start finding its winning ways this weekend. The Elis will have only four games left after Dartmouth to make a run up the table. Defending Ancient Eight champions Princeton has defined both teams’ seasons so far. While the Elis (5–4–1, 0–2–0) Ivy) lost 3–0 against the Tigers at home to end their four-game winning streak, the Big Green (5–3–2, 1–0–1 Ivy) tied with the defending champions on the road 0–0. Unlike Yale, Dartmouth was able to stifle the offensive might of the Tigers, and for a Bulldogs team struggling for goals, this could present a problem.

“We might change formation against Dartmouth,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “They had a good result against Princeton. They are tough to score on.”

The Big Green have also been more than adequate in front of goal. They score an average of 1.2 times a game while only conceding 0.9. Along with top scorer Remy Borinsky, Dartmouth has six players who have gotten on the scoresheet so far this year. So while its strong defense stops goals, an efficient strike force with many capable goal scorers can convert chances that come their way.

The Big Green’s balance could cause issues for a Bulldog squad that has not scored a goal in more than 216 minutes and the entirety of conference play. The makeshift strike force of Noelle Higginson ’20, Aerial Chavarin ’20 and Saje Brar ’22 that proved so effective in the Elis’ four-game winning streak seems to have faltered over the past two weeks.

“Ivy League play has been hard for us thus far,” goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel ’20 said. “But regardless of our record, we always want to perform as well as we can. Since we have not scored a goal yet in Ivy League play, that is definitely something we want to change this week. We have great forwards on our team, but due to injuries, I think players are still learning to play with one another.”

The Bulldogs currently sit at the bottom of the Ivy conference alongside Cornell and Brown, with two losses, albeit with a better overall win record. Meanwhile, Dartmouth finds itself second, tied with Princeton and UPenn. Columbia is currently first with an undefeated start to the conference season.

Yale won last year’s game against Dartmouth in overtime 2–1. A near-post blast by Chavarin won an incredibly close game for the Bulldogs. Despite current form and injury issues, the Elis are also looking to win their fourth game against the Big Green in a row.

“This weekend we are looking to rebound from two hard results, and finish out the rest of the season on a high that we can carry into the offseason and next year,” Fagel said.

Given the medical hardships the Bulldogs have endured this fall, such an attitude is reasonable. Captain and stalwart defender Brittany Simpson ’19 and last year’s main goal threat, striker Michelle Alozie ’19 both got injured prior to the Princeton match that kicked off conference play. Meanwhile, midfielders Reina Bonta ’21 and Sarah Jordan ’21 have had a slow start to their sophomore campaigns after muscle injuries derailed their preseason.

Yale’s game against Dartmouth starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Hanover.

Bill Gallagher | .