A 3–0 defeat on the road at Brown on Saturday ended the Yale women’s soccer season.
The game, which the Bulldogs hoped to use as fodder for a comeback 2019 season, fell apart at the seams, as the Bears scored three times in a nine-minute span in the second half, a far cry from the narrow matches of years past.
Yale (7–9–1, 1–6–0 Ivy) walked off the pitch at half-time tied 0–0 with the Bears (8–8–1, 3–4–0). Both offenses were playing well and created chances on net. The Bulldogs tested Brown’s Christine Etzel on three occasions, while Alyssa Fagel ’20 worked hard to keep the Bears at bay with three excellent saves. However, after the break, the Elis’ tempo and rhythm faltered. The offense found itself unable to create any chances at scoring. Meanwhile the Bears ran rampant, scoring three times between the 53rd and the 62nd minute off a loose ball in the box and two set pieces.
Hampered by injuries, the Bulldogs end the season below the .500 mark, a year after finishing with a .706 record.
“I think the first half was pretty even,” midfielder Sarah Jordan ’21 said. “But the early goals in the second half seemed to energize Brown. We had difficulty advancing the ball into their final third.”
However, difficulty advancing the ball into the final third was just the tip of the iceberg for the Bulldogs.
The Elis failed to take a single shot in the second half. Brown, meanwhile, had 10 strikes at Yale’s net, with five on target. Brown’s slick play was too much for Yale, who had to contend with more injury-related misfortune. Midfield orchestrator Noelle Higginson ’20 suffered a knock to the knee, which left the Elis without yet another key figure in the squad. Injuries have plagued the team throughout the season, with both captain and defender Brittany Simpson ’19 and reigning Ivy League Co-Offensive Player of the Year Michelle Alozie ’19 suffering medical hardships earlier on in the campaign.
“Mentally it is always difficult to bounce back after watching your teammates get helped off the field, and this proved especially difficult in the second half,” Fagel said. “Our team faced incredible adversity this season, and it was definitely reflected in our results.”
The Bulldogs fell behind in the 53rd minute, when a ricochet in the box fell kindly to the Bears’ Jennifer Caruso, who struck it sweetly past Fagel. Six minutes later, Abby Carchio scored 25 yards out from a free kick. Carchio then floated in a corner kick, and Charlotte DeVaughn placed the ball into the net three minutes later.
Yale finishes its conference slate with a 1–6 record –– good for three points and a seventh-place finish. The Bulldogs sole Ivy win was a 1–0 shutout against a Cornell side that has not claimed a single victory since its opening game of the season way back in August.
As the curtains fall on what has been an incredibly unfortunate and challenging 2018 season, the Elis now have a ten-month offseason to retool before the next campaign. Although the team is losing senior Alozie, the Bulldogs will still see the return of a core group of offensive players in 2019. Both Higginson and striker Aeriel Chavarin ’20, who combined for nine goals and 10 assists this year, will be back to lead next year’s rebound. Many sophomores on the team like Jordan and Reina Bonta ’21 found valuable game time this fall by filling in for injured starters, placing them in good positions for their junior campaigns.
“We will do more to prevent injuries this offseason,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “This year’s list was the biggest I’ve had in my 24 years at Yale. You can’t play if you’re not healthy. We’ll also try and get individually better –– both physically and technically.”
The Bulldogs’ 2019 season starts late next August.
Bill Gallagher | email@example.com .