Closing out a fantastic season, the Yale women’s soccer team tied No. 17 Brown 1–1 to become the only Ivy League team to deny the Bears a win this year.
The Bulldogs (11–4–1, 4–2–1 Ivy) played their last game of the year at Reese Stadium on Saturday. The Bears (14–1–2, 6–0–1) had been the only undefeated team in the Ivy League and had already secured the Ancient Eight’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament leading up to Saturday’s game. The Elis finish this season with impressive highlights, including 11 wins and 31 goals.
“Though we weren’t able to get the win against Brown, our coaching staff and team were really happy with our performance on both sides of the ball,” head coach Brendan Faherty said. “This season we have been focused on creating an identity for our team — on and off the field — and I believe yesterday’s game showcased what Yale women’s soccer is all about. Each member of our team brought a ton of positive energy to the game, we were able to keep possession for long stretches, and we also did a great job repressing when we lost the ball.”
Both teams came onto the field looking for a win in their final Ivy contest, showing early aggression and fighting for ball possession. Brown gained the early advantage, with Ava Seelenfreund heading a corner kick past captain and goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel ’20 to score in the second minute of playing time. The Bulldogs recovered quickly, however, moving the ball downfield and forcing Bears keeper Kayla Thompson to make three saves within seven minutes. Yale outshot Brown 9–4 in the first half, but still left the field trailing 1–0.
Returning for the second half, the Bulldogs were determined to show their dominance. Their big chance finally came when midfielder Noelle Higginson ’20 got control of the ball and sent a long pass up to striker Ellery Winkler ’23. Winkler broke away from the defense, dribbled past the goalkeeper and sent a shot into the corner of the goal at the last second to snag the equalizer and her seventh goal of the season.
“Thinking back on our first game against St. John’s, and then taking a look at our dominant performance this past weekend, it’s incredible to see how far we’ve come,” Fagel said. “Our confidence, tactical awareness and speed of play all increased throughout the season, and I think our performance against Brown epitomizes the talent of this team.”
The match against Brown marks the end of a historic season for the Bulldogs, reaching 11 total wins for just the second time in the last ten years. They also brought their total goal count up to 31 while only allowing 14 against their defense to surpass the 2008 record of 30 goals in a season.
Faherty credits much of the team’s success to the motivation of the group and the leadership of the seniors. Over the course of the season, the team has emphasized not only tactical improvements, but also mental focus and a positive mindset. As the six seniors close out their final season, they can be proud of a combined 39 career goals. Fagel has also made 202 saves, contributing to 21 career shutouts.
“There are so many positives to take away from this season, but most of all I want to thank our student-athletes for all their efforts,” Faherty said. “I feel very fortunate that I had the opportunity to coach our six seniors. They are great representatives of Yale University and I have no doubt they are going to continue to positively impact others’ lives long after they graduate from Yale.”
The women’s team finishes this season ranked third in the Ivy League, its tied highest finish since the 2009 season.
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