Lukas Flippo

The Yale women’s soccer team finished third in the Ivy League in 2019 to match its best finish since 2009. 

Forward Aerial Chavarin ’20 — who was the team’s leading scorer with eight season goals — will begin playing professionally after graduation with the Chicago Red Stars, a National Women’s Soccer League club team. Not only has Chavarin excelled on the field throughout her Yale career, but she has been a role model and friend for every new class of Yale women’s soccer. 

“It has been an exciting time for our program and Aerial’s accomplishments this year have set a standard for Yale women’s soccer,” head coach Sarah Martinez said after the NWSL draft. “We have many players with aspirations to play professionally, and this is a time where those are very realistic goals for us to have.”

The Elis had early success in nonconference matchups, losing only two games before Ivy play. In their home opener against Fairfield, the Bulldogs earned a 5–1 victory to set the tone for their ferocity throughout the season. After her first week of play, first-year striker Ellery Winkler ’23 was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week. By the end of the season, she had seven tallies and six assists.

The Elis had early success in nonconference matchups, losing only two games before Ivy play. (Illustration: Sophie Henry)

On the other end of the field, captain Alyssa Fagel ’20 manned the goal. Fagel started every match, posted six shutouts and totaled 46 saves this year. She has had notable success throughout her Yale career. In 2018, she won the Fritz Rodriguez Defensive Player of the Year Award, and Fagel competed in the European Maccabi Games in Budapest last summer, winning a gold medal with Team USA. As captain, Fagel was a uniting leader on the team, inspiring younger players with her positive mindset and strong work ethic. 

“As a first-year, Alyssa’s leadership has made my first season with Yale soccer so enjoyable,” midfielder Chloe Laureano ’23 said. “Since my first day of preseason, she has made sure to help the other first-years and me feel welcomed on the team and has provided us with useful advice. Playing with Alyssa for one season has been great, but I wish it could last longer.”

The Elis’ Ivy League campaign was challenging, but the team experienced great success. An October win streak saw victories against Dartmouth, Cornell and Penn, with Yale defeating Penn for the first time since 2009. To close out their fantastic season, the Bulldogs faced off against Brown in a home match. The Bears came into the matchup undefeated, having already secured the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

In a 1–1 tie, Yale became the only Ivy League team to deny Brown a win in the 2019 season. This match against the Bears marked the end of a historic season for the Bulldogs. For just the second time in the last 10 years, the Blue and White reached 11 total wins. They also brought their total goal count up to an impressive 31, while only allowing 14 scored against their defense, and surpassed the program’s 2008 record of 30 goals in a 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.”

First-year striker Ellery Winkler ’23 made an immediate impact, contributing seven tallies and six assists in 2019. (Photo: Lukas Flippo)

Following the season, Yale appointed Sarah Martinez as the team’s new head coach last December. Martinez started at Yale as an assistant coach in 2019. Previously, she coached at both Stony Brook University and the University of Washington, her alma mater. Before beginning a coaching career, Martinez had an extremely successful collegiate career. During her time as a Husky, she was named Offensive Team MVP twice, served as captain and twice won her athletic department’s Most Inspirational Female Athlete Award. Assistant coach Holly Hein, who left her position as a volunteer assistant at Michigan, joined Martinez’s staff at the start of 2020.

“This new role comes with so much excitement for me personally and all of that excitement stems from the group of players we have in our locker room,” Martinez said. “It’s a special group in their ability to learn, be coached and their passion for Yale women’s soccer. From the day I got here last January [2019], this group has been eager to learn and grow, so having the opportunity to continue to impact in any way the trajectory of the program means the world to me.”

After starting all 16 games in 2019, defender Kristen Enriquez ’21 will serve as captain in 2020.

Alessa Kim-Panero |