The Yale women’s soccer team and head coach Brendan Faherty prepare for a much anticipated matchup against Harvard at Reese Stadium this Saturday, after a victory against Princeton 1–0 last weekend.
The Bulldogs (7–2–0, 1–0–0 Ivy) have enjoyed a successful season so far, extending their win streak to five victories. Not only did the Elis start off their conference season with a win, but they triumphed over Princeton for the first time since 2013. Heading into this weekend’s game, the team hopes to maintain the dominance it has displayed so far this fall. However, rival Harvard (7–2–0, 1–0–0 Ivy) poses a strong threat to Yale. In preparation, the Bulldogs have been honing in on ways to improve their play.
“We’ve been focusing on the little things that will help us be successful on Saturday,” striker Aerial Chavarin ’20 said. “One of the main focuses has been ‘hunger in the 18.’ Brendan has emphasized the importance of being hungry for goals and also movement of the ball in and around the 18 so that we can create more goal-scoring opportunities. I think that this along with our constant hard work and effort throughout training this week will definitely help prepare us for battle.”
The squad came onto the pitch in last Saturday’s game with energy and confidence and immediately made attacks down the field. Midfielders Chloe Laureano ’23 and Noelle Higginson ’20 both made shots in just the first few minutes. This early aggression was quickly rewarded, with Chavarin scoring the sole goal of the game in just the 17th minute. Throughout the contest, the Bulldogs maintained their fast pace, making 13 total shots against a frustrated Tiger side.
On the other end of the field, captain and goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel ’20 successfully posted her third shutout of the season, saving all three of Princeton’s shots on goal. During training, the defense worked hard to improve their rhythm and maintain shape while protecting the net. Their success is clear, with only eight goals conceded in the entire season so far. As they take on the Crimson offense this weekend, Yale’s defense looks to maintain its strength on their end of the field.
“While starting out Ivy play with a win is something to be proud of, it will mean a lot more if we can carry the momentum moving forward,” Fagel said. “Our victory over Princeton was a huge team effort and very exciting, but now all eyes turn to Harvard. We know what we are capable of and if every player continues to give 110 percent, I think the results will follow.”
This weekend, Yale hopes to reverse the result of last year’s game against Harvard, which saw the Crimson prevail 1–0. So far this season, the two rivals have matching records. Yale lost in double overtime in its first game against St. John’s but has not lost since its Sept. 8 fixture with nationally-ranked Virginia Tech. One of Harvard’s losses also came in the Crimson’s season-opener. Harvard fell to Northeastern, a team that Yale beat 2–1. Since that loss, Harvard has conceded only once to San Francisco on Sept. 13. Players like Gabby DelPico, Angela Caloia and Sophie Hirst pose a threat to the Bulldogs, netting four goals each so far this campaign. To prepare, Yale returned to training this week focusing on improving its overall style of play. Faherty asserted that the squad will focus their energy on one game at a time, keeping a grounded perspective as it heads into the second half of its season.
Next week, the Bulldogs will face two more worthy opponents: SUNY Albany and Dartmouth. Albany (5–3–2, 2–0–0 America East) and Yale have never played before, making Tuesday’s faceoff one to watch. The Elis will then take on the Big Green (7–2–0, 0–1–0 Ivy) the following Saturday at home. Last year, Dartmouth triumphed over the Elis, 1–0.
“One result, positive or negative, anywhere in the season, is not going to change our initial goal heading into the season,” Faherty said. “We want to just put all of our energy and focus into the next practice to make us as prepared as possible for the next game. We are excited to have the opportunity to represent Yale University against Harvard, even more so with it being a home match.”
Yale kicks off against Harvard at Reese Stadium this Saturday at 7 p.m.
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