As the injury plague continues to ravage the Yale women’s soccer team, the Bulldogs’ chances of salvaging their season grow slimmer by the day. However, inside their Pandora’s Box exists hope: a talented, young core with immense potential for years to come.

The medical mishaps started before the season even began with captain Brittany Simpson ’19 tearing her achilles without playing in a single game. Then, Ivy League Co-Offensive Player of the Year Michelle Alozie ’19 suffered a season-ending injury during nonconference play. Fellow senior defender Fallon Sheridan ’19, midfielder Sarah Jordan ’21 and first years Alexandra Otterstrom ’22 and Emily Clorite ’22 further fill the injury report. While the injuries have resulted in the Bulldogs’ losing their first three Ivy games, they have also allowed younger players to develop in the absence of their more veteran teammates.

“Players like Giana Pittaro ’22 and Alex McCraven ’21 have done a great job filling these spots,” goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel ’20 said. “This will help increase intersquad competition next year and ensure that nobody becomes complacent in the offseason.”

Despite their lack of collegiate experience, Pittaro and McCraven have stepped up and greatly contributed to the team. McCraven has three assists, giving her the fifth-highest points total on the team, while Pittaro has started in five of the team’s 11 games, including all three Ancient Eight fixtures.

With several seniors injured, the junior class has stepped into the leadership void. Midfielder Noelle Higginson ’20 leads the squad in points, with 11. Her three goals and five assists were integral to the 5–2–1 start to the current season. Striker Aerial Chavarin ’20 has also done more than her fair share of work, with three goals and one assist on the year so far. Midfielder Kristi Wharton ’20 has been a consistent workhorse in the middle third of the pitch. Wharton played all 17 games last year and every game this year with the exception of a three-game stint on the sidelines due to injury.

“Noelle Higginson and Aerial Chavarin will get more leadership roles next year,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “They’re great leaders already and will be even more so next year.”

The current crop of sophomores has also had the chance to grow. Striker Ciara Ostrander ’21 has five points on the year so far from two goals and one assist and will try to build on this impressive start next season.

Naturally, speculation about the future greatly relies on the first-year players. Along with Pittaro, forward Saje Brar ’22 is already showcasing her talent and creating optimism about the future. Brar’s eight points thus far are the second most among the Bulldogs, and her five games started solidify her as a key member of the young core. Additionally, Mahea Heimuli ’22 has started six games, to help give the class of 2022 solid representation on the field.

“The team looks great for next year in terms of potential because the team does not have too many graduating seniors, so the players on the team will all be familiar with each other in terms of style of play and work ethic,” Ostrander said.

As the Bulldogs complete their Ivy League slate, they are working on their chemistry for next year. Moreover, the solid contributions of the younger players will create a smooth transition to next season, as a hefty percentage of the current team will remain teammates on next year’s squad.

As bright as the Elis’ future is, there are still four conference fixtures left on their schedule. First comes a road trip to Ithaca to face Cornell this Saturday. The Elis have a great opportunity to get their first win of the conference season against a Big Red team that has not won since its opening game against St. Bonaventure.

The Elis kick off against Cornell at 1 p.m.

Bill Gallagher | william.gallagher@yale.edu

Reese Koppel | reese.koppel@yale.edu