The first athletic event of the new school year could very well go down as one of the most memorable of 2017-18. Noelle Higginson scored the only goal of the game midway through the first half as the Yale women’s soccer team opened the season with a 1-0 victory over No. 21 UConn at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium.
“It’s great to start the season like this,” said Yale head coach Rudy Meredith. “It’s a credit to all the hard work we’ve put in over the last seven months.”
The winning goal came off a scramble in front of the UConn goal. Michelle Alozie got behind the defense and appeared to be pulled down in the box. With the Yale bench calling for a penalty kick, the ball trickled out to Higginson, who banged it in at 18:27.
Yale’s defense took over from there. The Bulldogs allowed UConn only four shots in the game.
Goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel wasn’t forced to make a save, but she made a number of fine plays intercepting crosses. She also received tremendous support from her back line.
“Our defense played very well,” Meredith said.
The win was Yale’s first over UConn in Storrs and just the third over the Huskies overall. The Bulldogs’ last win in the series came in 2004, 2-0 at Reese Stadium.
Meredith was well aware of Yale’s history in the series. In the days leading up to the game, he had the team practice in groups of three, do three-minute drills and play games to three.
“We emphasized three,” Meredith said. “Three was the magic number.”
Yale nearly won in Storrs in 2008, but the Huskies scored with 1.1 seconds left in the second half and then tallied the game-winner in overtime.
When asked if that game was going through his mind as the clock ticked down, Meredith replied “oh yeah.”
The win, while certainly an upset, shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Yale is a veteran team that believes it can compete for the Ivy League title.
The Bulldogs have little time to savor the victory. They play their home opener on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. against Delaware State. The early start is because of freshmen orientation.
“We’ll need to come out with the same intensity and same attitude,” Meredith said.