NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Geneva Decker won’t soon forget her final game at Reese Stadium. Decker, a senior, scored just 2:17 into overtime as Yale earned a thrilling 2-1 victory over Columbia before a big Senior Day crowd.
“It was a dream ending,” said Yale head coach Rudy Meredith. “That’s the way you want your last game to end.”
Decker’s goal was one of two heroic moments for the Bulldogs. Michelle Alozie scored with 10.7 seconds left in the second half to tie the score at 1-1 and force the overtime.
Yale finished with two goals in the final 2:27 of the game against a team that had posted seven straight shutouts and hadn’t allowed a goal in Ivy play.
“The whole season we have been fighting to the end,” Meredith said. “It shows the character of this team. I’m really happy that they were rewarded.”
It made for quite a finale for Decker and her classmates – Lillian Bitner, Karina Kovalcik, Colleen McCormack and Dani Temares, who were all honored prior to kickoff.
“Everybody really wanted to win for the seniors,” Meredith said.
It’s been a season of unlucky breaks for the Bulldogs, whose three Ivy losses have all come by one goal. The victory over the Lions, who entered the day atop the league standings, showed how close Yale was to contending for the title.
“I really like the fight we have shown,” Meredith said. “It’s something we can build on. We’re in good shape moving forward.”
Despite the loss, Columbia can still win the Ivy championship with a victory at Harvard next Saturday.
Amaris Hemmings’ goal at 67:27 looked like it might be enough for the Lions to escape with a win over the Bulldogs, especially given their long stretch without allowing a goal.
Yale, though, applied consistent pressure throughout the final 20 minutes before finally getting the equalizer.
Alozie’s tying goal came when she fired a shot from the wing that barely deflected off a Columbia defender and in.
Decker’s game-winning goal was set up by a terrific forward pass from Aerial Chavarin. Decker took a few quick dribbles forward and fired a hard shot that seemed to surprise Columbia goalkeeper Allison Spencer.
Yale goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel was outstanding. She made six saves, including a couple of big ones after Columbia had taken the lead and the Bulldogs were pressing.
“She kept us in the game,” Meredith said.
Yale closes out the season next Saturday at Brown. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m.