Courtesy of Steve Musco

In a game of what could have been, the Yale women’s soccer team suffered a shocking defeat 2–0 at home to Sacred Heart on Wednesday. The Bulldogs dominated large parts of the game and yet were still unable to score on a team that had not kept a clean sheet in over a month.

The Elis (7–7–1, 1–3 Ivy) let in an early goal within ten minutes of play. Sacred Heart (4–13, 2–5 in conference) started fast when Lindsay Corallo slid the ball past goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel ’20 to give Sacred Heart a major advantage and leave Yale fans agasp. The Bulldogs fought back, creating offensive chance after chance. The team’s best first-half chance — in the form of an Aerial Chavarin ’20 header — ultimately yielded nothing.

After the restart, the Pioneers scored an early goal — a cross whipped in by Taylor Casale and met by Melanie Silva. The Bulldogs, in response, increased the intensity of their attacks, but could not find the back of the net.

Full time came with a resounding shrill. The Bulldogs struck 22 chances on goal but only six on target. Chavarin had 11 of those shots. Midfielders Noelle Higginson ’20 and Keri Cavallo ’19 were the second highest with three.

“We didn’t finish our chances,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “We had chances — 22 chances — we should have taken those chances. The early goal also worked against, but we should have taken our chances.”

Sacred Heart meanwhile were simply more efficient. The Pioneers only had 12 shots on goal but were able to get five shots on target. Discipline was also a major problem for the Bulldogs. Yale gave away 11 fouls, giving their opponents possession in crucial parts of the pitch. Sacred Heart only conceded six fouls.

Next up for the Bulldogs is another home game against Columbia (7–6–1, 3–2–0 Ivy) for what will be a tough contest.

The Lions have had decent form this year, with a 3–2–0 Ivy League record, compared to the Elis’ sole win and three losses. While they have not been dominant in the Ancient Eight, Columbia has the ability to make it count in the big games against conference rivals. The Lions have claimed victories against Brown, Cornell and most crucially, Dartmouth — a team that stifled Yale in a tight game in Hanover. Incredibly close 1–0 defeats on the road to league-leading Penn and historic juggernaut Princeton also show that the Lions know how to keep fixtures within reach against the better teams in the conference.

However, history is on the Elis’ side. Yale has a knack for stopping Columbia and winning closely contested games. The 2017 edition of this fixture was a 1–0 win for the Bulldogs at Columbia. Striker Aerial Chavarin ’20 claimed a last-minute winner against the then-league-leaders and handed them their first Ivy loss in the process. The 2016 clash saw the Bulldogs emerge victorious 2–1 in overtime on a dramatic senior day. Midfielder Geneva Decker ’17 scored the winner a mere two minutes into overtime in her last game at Reese Field.

“To prepare, we obviously need to work on finishing,” Higginson said. “Columbia is historically very solid in the back — at least since I’ve been here — so we’ll have fewer chances and will have to take advantage of them. That’s goal number one for practice this week.”

Against Columbia, the Bulldog seniors will also be playing their final home collegiate game of their careers. The battle with the Lions pits recent poor form for the Elis with past success against this opponent. While the result is uncertain, Yale’s Reese Field will be packed this Saturday for senior day before the final game of the season at Brown.

Kickoff against Columbia is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Bill Gallagher | william.gallagher@yale.edu .