NEW HAVEN, Conn. – A young Yale women’s soccer team saw first hand why Arkansas is one of the top teams in the SEC. Ashleigh Ellenwood scored three goals and added an assist as the Razorbacks spoiled Yale’s season opener, knocking off the Bulldogs 4-1 on a gorgeous night at Reese Stadium.
“We’re too inexperienced to play at their level right now,” said Yale head coach Rudy Meredith, who started five freshmen and two sophomores. “We’re going to get better.”
The Razorbacks (3-0) were playing their third game and received votes in this week’s NSCAA top-25 national poll.
The Bulldogs (0-1) stayed with Arkansas for much of the first half, but the Razorbacks scored twice in a 12-minute stretch of the second half to put it away.
“There was a 30-minute period where I was very happy with how we played,” Meredith said. “If we can play like that for 90 minutes, we’ll be fine.”
First-game jitters may have caught the Bulldogs early as Ellenwood was left alone in front to head in Erika Miller’s free kick just 42 seconds into the game.
Yale, though, regrouped and tied it in the 18th minute off a corner kick. Ally Grossman sent a cross into the box, Michelle Alozie was able to tap it to Sofia Griff, who fired it in for her first career goal.
“I was proud of the way we fought back,” Meredith said.
Ellenwood, though, struck again with less than five minutes left in the first half. She took a feed on the wing from Claire Kelley and fired a shot just inside the far post.
Ellenwood completed the hat trick when she curled in a shot from 25 yards out at 58:32, and then she set up Reece Christopherson’s goal at 70:25 to cap the scoring.
“They punished us every time we made a mistake,” Meredith said.
Griff, Alozie, Fallon Sheridan, Fran Steele and Keri Cavallo were the five freshmen to start for the Bulldogs.
Despite the outcome, Meredith was pleased to test his team against a national power.
“We’re striving to be a team like that, and to do that we’ve got to see it,” he said.
The game was televised on the Cox Sports Net and former Yale men’s head coach Brian Tompkins, who is now an assistant athletic director, served as the color analyst.
The Bulldogs are back in action on Friday when they host Hofstra in the second game of the Yale Classic at 7:30 p.m. Central Connecticut and UMass meet at 5 p.m.