The Yale women’s soccer team bested Albany 4–0 in a decisive home game on Tuesday.
After a disappointing loss against rival Harvard this past weekend, the Bulldogs (8–3–0, 1–1–0 Ivy) and head coach Brendan Faherty came back strong to defeat the Great Danes (5–4–3, 2–0–1 America East). In a thrilling 90 minutes of play, Yale secured four goals and posted its fourth shutout of the season. To continue their conference slate, the Elis will take on Dartmouth in another home match on Saturday.
“Coming off a disappointing game against Harvard, which was the first game we didn’t score in this season, we were really focused on attacking,” said forward Noelle Higginson ’20. “In practice, we talked about being clinical on crossing and finishing, which we know we’re good at but didn’t show against Harvard. We also try to press teams and score on turnovers. I think against Albany we clicked on both of those—finishing from crosses and being dangerous on turnovers—which led to great goals.”
The Bulldogs brought their usual aggression to the field early on, with forward Mia Grillo ’21 forcing UAlbany goalkeeper Sophia Chen to make her first save within just five minutes. The squad kept the energy high, with Grillo, defender Emily Clorite ’22 and striker Ellery Winkler ’23 taking four more shots within the next 10 minutes. The Bulldogs got their first chance in the 23rd minute, when forward Lydia Shaw ’21 made a perfect cross to Winkler, who sunk the ball into the top right corner of the net. The goal was Winkler’s sixth of the season.
Five minutes later, Shaw artfully dodged defenders to chip a shot over the keeper’s head, building the Bulldogs’ lead to 2–0. Yale continued to apply pressure and take shots, keeping the ball mostly on Albany’s side. For the third goal of the match, forward Emily Yin ’22 sent a perfect ball into the box to Higginson, who was able to take a clear shot to the bottom right corner of the net. With three minutes left in the first half, Yin had another great assist and placed a through ball perfectly in the box to allow forward Saje Brar ’22 to score her first goal of the season.
The Bulldogs returned to the field for the second half with a comfortable 4–0 lead. Regardless, they continued to play a strong game, pushing movement up the side of the field and making crosses in front of the goal. In training, the team has focused on creating these dangerous opportunities by using the abilities of wingers and outside backs to widen the field. With half an hour left, the coaching staff made several substitutions in order to give time to the players who had yet to see action on the field this season. Goalkeeper Simone Eligon ’23 made her debut, confidently leading the defense and saving the only Albany shot on goal. The new lineup maintained the same signature Bulldog aggression with four more shots against the Great Danes before time ran out.
“Though it was our first time playing Albany, our staff is very familiar with the Great Danes from our time at Stony Brook,” said Faherty. “Albany is a good side, well-coached, very organized defensively, with some dangerous attacking players. I think we played really well on both sides of the ball, but I think we also caught Albany on an off night for them.”
The Bulldogs switch their focus back to their Ivy opponents this weekend, when they will take on Dartmouth (8–3–0, 0–2–0 Ivy) in another home match. In last year’s game, the Big Green found a goal in the final four minutes of play to beat Yale 1–0. Though the two teams maintain the same impressive overall record, Dartmouth fell to Princeton last weekend, a team the Bulldogs defeated the week before. On Tuesday, the Big Green had its own non-conference match against Merrimack, which it also won 4–0, with three of four goals scored by Allie Winstanley. As Yale prepares to take on this dangerous team, it will not only have to look out for strikers like Winstanley, but a fierce defense that has only allowed five opposing goals so far this season.
Looking forward, Yale continues its conference season with matchups against Cornell (4–4–1, 0–2–0 Ivy) and Penn (6–3–1, 1–1–0 Ivy) over the following two weekends. The Bulldogs defeated the Big Red 1–0 in last year’s game with a header from striker Aerial Chavarin ’20. Cornell lost in its most recent contests against Columbia and Penn. Yale will face the Quakers next in Philadelphia, looking to reverse the result of last year’s match, which saw Penn prevail 2–1. To prepare for their upcoming Ivy clashes, the Bulldogs will spend time in training focusing on switching their point of attack when they have the ball and becoming more efficient on restarts.
“Regardless of who we play and how we’ve done against them in the past, our primary focus is going to be on our team and performing as well as we can,” Alyssa Fagel ’20 said. “I’m hopeful we can carry this momentum into the Dartmouth game on Saturday, and can’t wait to be back [at] Reese for another home game.”
Yale returns to Reese Stadium at 1 p.m. this Saturday when it takes on Dartmouth.
Alessa Kim-Panero | email@example.com