Courtesy of Steve Musco
Fight to the end, and see what will happen.
This has arguably been the Yale women’s soccer team’s unspoken motto in a tough season characterized by injuries, offensive struggles and disappointing results against inferior opponents. But their season will finally be settled when the Bulldogs play their final game this Saturday at Brown.
Yale (7–8–1, 1–5–0 Ivy) is still reeling from a lackluster 2–0 loss at home to Columbia, where the wet and windy weather took center stage after senior day festivities. The Lions simply played better in the harsh conditions, outshooting the Elis 15–8 and converting their chances into a two-goal, shutout victory. Against Brown (7–8–1, 2–4–0), the Bulldogs must learn from this experience and finish the season on a high note. The opportunity is there for the taking –– Yale can potentially jump above the Bears in the Ivy League standings into sixth place with a win. While a victory may seem too little too late, any extra momentum going into the off-season can only be a positive for the squad.
“Because it’s our last game, and we know we haven’t had the most ideal season, we definitely want to end on a high note and have a proper send off for our seniors,” midfielder Reina Bonta ’21 said. “We are using these last few games as building games and are really hopeful for next season.”
But in order to be competitive, Yale needs a solid performance from its out-of-sorts offense, which has netted just one goal in the last three games. With striker and ever-reliable goalscorer Michelle Alozie ’19 still sidelined by injury, the Bulldogs managed to get on the scoreboard in only three out of their last eight games and won only two, including a 6–2 win against lowly Delaware State and a one-goal victory against low-ranking Cornell.
Strikers Ciara Ostrander ’21, Saje Brar ’22, Fran Steele ’19, Aerial Chavarin ’20 and midfielder Noelle Higginson ’20 must look to create more clear-cut chances in the box in order for Yale to be successful.
“[Our team] always gives 100 percent effort,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “We have an opportunity to stay above .500 for the season. The effort has been there — I don’t think there has been an issue with that.”
Shoring up their defense will also be a priority for the Bulldogs. In their last four games, the Elis have conceded eight goals. Most of these scores have resulted from the team being caught in transition, giving the ball away further up the field and then scrambling to form a defensive line. A solid back four will undoubtedly be essential in stopping a Bears offense that has found its form of late.
Brown has scored 11 goals in its last quartet of contests, including a 6–0 win against Delaware State. The Bears also put up a tough fight against Harvard, losing 3–2. The Crimson beat the Elis in a one-goal shutout. Brown’s mark of 1.63 goals a game also bests the Bulldogs’ own average of 1.31 scores per match.
Saturday’s game marks the end of an exhausting season for Yale. Coming off an impressive 11–4–1 campaign in 2017, similar high hopes fell by the wayside early on. Games that could have gone differently, such as 1–0 defeats to Harvard and Dartmouth and a 2–1 loss to Penn, will likely linger in the minds of team members. Come full-time against Brown, the Bulldogs will be able to reflect on their season and their personal successes and failures in hopes of a more fruitful 2019 campaign.
“Personally, this has been a season packed with learning opportunities,” goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel ’20 said. “Our record is far from what we would have liked, but it has allowed numerous players to step up as leaders and playmakers on this team. This will be especially important as we approach the off-season because we have only 10 months to train hard and prepare to turn this program around.”
Such plans nevertheless remain secondary to the upcoming game against Brown, a relatively evenly matched affair in years past.
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. this Saturday in Providence, R.I.
Billy Gallagher | firstname.lastname@example.org .