While the rest of campus enjoyed a few days of rest over fall break, the Yale women’s soccer team was hard at work playing two games in four days. The Bulldogs journeyed south to thump Delaware State 6–2 on Wednesday in its largest win of 2018 before returning home to face Penn on Saturday, losing 2–1 in a tightly contested match.
Within the course of less than a week, Yale (7–6–1, 1–4 Ivy) flashed its potential while also displaying what has plagued the team for most of this year’s Ivy League play. With attacking flair and solid teamwork, the Bulldogs dominated a shoddy Delaware State (3–12–2 Independent) team that has not won since early September. Against Penn (11–1–1, 4–0–1 Ivy), the Elis kept the conference leaders in check for 80 minutes — in what was a tense 1–1 game — before falling victim to a close distance rebound shoot late in the match.
“We had 16 chances and 14 on goal [against Delaware State],” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “When you have so many, you’re going to score plenty of goals. With regards to Penn, they were a very good team. We played well, but we were outplayed in the air, leading them to getting more chances.”
In Wednesday’s game against the Hornets, the Elis played an easygoing first half. Yale found itself up 2–0 at the break, courtesy of goals from forwards Ciara Ostrander ’21 and Saje Brar ’22. Offensive leaders midfielder Noelle Higginson ’20 and striker Aerial Chavarin ’20 both scored within eight minutes of the restart to give the Bulldogs a 4–0 lead. Higginson’s goal was one for the highlight reel –– a 25-yard screamer that may go down as the team’s goal of the season. Delaware State, however, managed to lower the deficit by two scores, making the game competitive despite the Bulldogs’ 4–0 lead. Nevertheless, Meredith’s team relentlessly pursued to the final whistle. Forward Lydia Shaw ’21 and Brar each found the net midway through the half with midfielder Sarah Jordan ’21 assisting on both. The final score ended at 6–2, marking the Bulldogs’ second win in a row.
Unfortunately for the Elis, they failed to carry that offensive momentum against Penn over the weekend. Despite the loss, the Bulldogs managed to score on a Quakers side that had only conceded three other goals all season. In what was a brilliantly-worked play straight from the training ground, midfielder Kristi Wharton ’20 floated in a perfect cross that was headed in by striker Fran Steele ’19 to tie the game up in the 64th minute — after Penn notched a goal shortly before. Everything seemed to be going Yale’s way until the Quakers’ Emily Sands poked in a winner 10 minutes from full time, right after the ball had careened off the side of the post. The Elis proved unable to rally with such little time left. Furthermore, the Bulldogs were hurt by the Quakers’ late-game possession tactics which kept the ball firmly under their control.
“Our offense was phenomenal against Delaware State,” goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel ’20 said. “We were calm in front of the goal and motivated to make a statement. The Penn game was difficult. Though we were unable to come up with the win, scoring a goal against them was huge for our team. I am optimistic that the seven goals we scored last week will help our confidence in these last three games.”
Beyond the loss, another negative that emerged from the Penn game was another injury in a season that has been defined by medical setbacks. Early in the first half, defender Mackenzie Marsh ’19 suffered a concussion. But despite the injury, Yale demonstrated its ability to hang with the best team in the conference.
The team now turns to face Sacred Heart on a short rest at home as it looks to preserve its overall winning record.
“The team worked very hard against probably the strongest team in the league,” Steele said. “We had some good chances and could have definitely scored more, so that’s a shame but there’s definitely positives to take into our last two Ivy League games.”
Kickoff against the Pioneers is set for 7 p.m on Wednesday at Reese Stadium.
Bill Gallagher | firstname.lastname@example.org .