NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Bulldogs turned in their most impressive performance of the young season on the opening night of the Yale Classic.
Melissa Gavin scored and added an assist and the defense shut down a potent Western Kentucky offense en route to a 2-0 victory on a gorgeous night at Reese Stadium.
Yale is now 3-0 on the season, its best start since 2009.
Gavin, a two-time first team All-Ivy selection, had been held without a point in the Bulldogs’ first two games, but broke out in a big way. She scored the first goal midway through the first half when she drilled a free kick from 20 yards out just inside the post, and then set up the second goal that sealed the win late in the second half.
“Melissa was definitely active,” said Yale head coach Rudy Meredith. “She was buzzing around.”
Her assist on the second goal was a thing of a beauty. Gavin deftly weaved her way through a couple of WKU defenders before finding freshman Sarah McCauley, who fired a low shot inside the left post from the top of the box
“That was one of the best passes I’ve seen in a long time,” Meredith said. “We’ve talked about making the extra pass around the box, and that was certainly a brilliant pass.”
The goal was the first of McCauley’s career.
“I’m happy for Sarah,” Meredith said. “The more players we have have scoring the better we will be.”
Yale’s defense was solid throughout. The Bulldogs limited the Hilltoppers (3-2) to 10 shots, very few of which were high-quality chances. And when WKU did threaten, goalkeepers Rachel Amesand Elise Wilcox were up to the challenge. The two split the goalkeeping duties and each finished with three saves as the Bulldogs posted their second shutout of the season.
“Our defense has been much more organized and a lot of the credit for that goes to the new assistant coaches [Stuart Dick and Eleri Earnshaw],” Meredith said. “I’m more of an offensive-minded coach and having those two has been very good for us.”
The game was a homecoming for Western Kentucky head coach Jason Neidell, a 1994 Yale graduate who is in his 14th year at the helm of the Hilltopper program. He played for the Bulldogs in the early 1990s and was part of a successful era. In his sophomore year, Yale won the Ivy League title and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament, falling to Virginia 2-0 in Charlottesville. Neidell was an Academic All-Ivy selection in 1993 and was the recipient of the Walter Leemann Award, presented to the student-athlete who best exemplifies leadership, sportsmanship and team play.
In the first game of the day, Sacred Heart erupted for four goals in the second half en route to a 4-0 victory over Manhattan.
The Bulldogs play Manhattan on Sunday at 2:30 p.m., following the Western Kentucky-Sacred Heart game.