After a dominating home opener against Fairfield, the Yale women’s soccer team and first-year head coach Brendan Faherty took their game to the road, beating Loyola Maryland 3-1 on Friday and thoroughly testing No. 23 Virginia Tech in a 2-1 loss on Sunday.
The Elis (2-2-0, 0-0-0 Ivy) fended off the Greyhounds (1-4-0, 0-1-0 Patriot), scoring thrice in the first 30 minutes of the game and shutting out the Loyola offense for the entirety of the second half. Yale continued its free-flowing attack style, outshooting Loyola 15-9. In Sunday’s matchup against the nationally-ranked Hokies (6-0-0, 0-0-0 ACC), the Bulldogs played with aggression but ultimately fell short of victory in the narrow defeat.
“After four games, we have done a lot of things well but also have quite a bit of room to grow,” Faherty said. “Both games this weekend were very challenging for our group. On Friday night we were able to capitalize on some very good attacking play in the first half. [On Sunday], it was a game of two halves. We played really well in the first 45 minutes, and had opportunities to get a second goal, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.”
The Bulldogs’ fight against the Greyhounds was aggressive from the outset. Loyola had two wide shots in the first five minutes. Striker Ellery Winkler ’23 sent a speedy ball to the post shortly thereafter. Seconds later, striker Aerial Chavarin ’20 headed in the rebound for an early lead. The Greyhounds responded, as Hannah Hoefs converted a penalty in the eighth minute to level the game at 1-1.
Later in the half, Winkler forced Loyola keeper Lily Andres to save her ball in the 25th minute, while midfielder Chloe Laureano ’23 also fired off two shots. In the 30th minute, Yale finally capitalized again, with Noelle Higginson ’20 scoring off an assist from Winkler and Laureano. Laureano also assisted Chavarin’s second explosive header of the night in the 33rd minute. After Friday’s match, Chavarin was tied with Winkler as the Elis’ leading scorer.
“I think our offense is effective,” Chavarin said. “Since the spring, Brendan has emphasized getting the ball out wide to our wingers. He has ingrained in us the importance of beating the outside back down the line and crossing the ball into the box. I think that our ability to keep/use our width and our collective desire to win is allowing us to be effective offensively. I’m excited about this team.”
The Bulldogs then journeyed to the foothills of the Appalachians to face off against the Hokies, looking to continue their momentum. The Elis struck midway through the opening half, drawing first blood in what was projected to be a tense affair. Chavarin put the Blue and White in the lead after capitalizing on a Virginia Tech defense that could not clear the ball out of its own end.
Yale had its back against the wall for the rest of the game, as its nationally-ranked opponent outshot the Elis 16 shots to three. Goalkeeper and captain Alyssa Fagel ’20 put in a shift in net, making three saves in the first act, before making a show-stopping block from close range in the 57th minute.
But the writing was on the wall and the Hokies finally the equalizer in the 65th minute. Virginia Tech’s Nicole Kozlova steered the ball past Fagel after a well-played through ball broke the Yale defensive line. More pressure ensued –– the Elis cracking just seven minutes from time when Kozlova netted the winner. The Hokies’ wide-play resulted in a perfect cross whipped in from the flanks to give the home team an unassailable.
“Playing a ranked team at their home field is never easy, but the fact that we traveled all this way and battled hard shows the grit and determination of this team,” Fagel said. “We are excited to be back on Reese this Thursday, and we showed after our loss at St. John’s that we are capable of bouncing back fast and getting ready for the next match.”
Yale hosts Fordham this Thursday night against a team the Bulldogs beat 1-0 in last year’s edition of the game.
Bill Gallagher | firstname.lastname@example.org
Esther Reichek | email@example.com