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After falling to Quinnipiac in a 4–0 game last Sunday, the Yale women’s soccer team prepares to face its third opponent of the year, Oregon State, at Reese Stadium this Friday. The Bulldogs then host Colgate on Sunday.

The Elis (0–2–0, 0–0 Ivy) will try to spark a winning streak after their success in the 2019 season, when Yale went 11–4–1. That year was the last season that the Bulldogs played, given the cancellation of competition in the 2020–21 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, this year’s team, coached by Sarah Martinez, features an unusual population of novice players and gap-year athletes. The Bulldogs lost their first two games of the season — including their opener, a 3–2 overtime defeat to Buffalo — but will seek their first wins at home this weekend.

“What’s hard is half our team is young so [the lineup is] going to look young always,” Martinez noted after the Buffalo loss. “You know, we have great seniors and returners, super senior leadership. But we are a young team, we have a lot of new players and I think this game was a good lesson for us.”

Friday’s matchup will be Oregon State’s (4–0–0, 0–0 Pac-12) fifth game of the season. The Beavers have scored wins against Seattle University, Fresno State, Idaho and New Mexico. Though they have started the season undefeated, Oregon State was picked last in the Pac-12 women’s soccer preseason coaches poll.

On Sunday, the Elis will face Colgate (2–1–0, 0–0 Patriot), which placed third in this fall’s Patriot League preseason poll. Colgate and Yale last played in 2018 in an overtime game that ultimately resulted in a 1–1 tie. The Bulldogs will take on Albany (0–2–1, 0–0 America East), whom they defeated in a 4–0 game in 2019, next Thursday.

A number of the Bulldogs’ most prominent players include first-year athletes and students returning from leaves of absence who are just starting to experience intercollegiate competition. Both the first goal and assist of this season were contributed by first years — midfielder Ellie Rappole ’25 and midfielder Alana Butcher ’25, respectively — and Annie Welch ’25 started both games as goalkeeper.

Welch said she had been practicing with the team’s four starting defenders, which makes her feel more comfortable on the ball with them now that she is accruing significant early-season playing time.

“I think it’s all about the connections I’ve made with the players in practice, so I was pretty confident coming into the first game,” Welch said after Yale’s loss to Buffalo. “I was ready to play and the nerves, right when the whistle blows, they go away.”

The roster also features nine returning players, including last year’s captain and defender Kristen Enriquez ’22. Enriquez, who was originally in the class of 2021, was re-elected captain for this fall’s season.

Additionally, the second assist of the Bulldogs’ season was earned by midfielder Reina Bonta ’22, another player who was originally in the class of 2021. 

“They’ve been really supportive and super welcoming,” Rappole said in reference to the team’s older players. “They’ve been really welcoming [to] the team, especially for the first years. They keep a high standard, but they always let you know that it’s okay to make mistakes and that you’re learning and integrating into the team.”

Friday night’s game at Oregon State will be Jersey Night for fans, meaning spectators that come wearing jerseys can enjoy free popcorn. 

AMELIA LOWER
Amelia Lower covers Religious Communities and Yale Divinity School, as well as men's lacrosse and men's ice hockey. She is a first-year in Jonathan Edwards College and is originally from Rye, New York.
HAMERA SHABBIR