NEW HAVEN, Conn. – There was no panic in the Yale women’s soccer team after falling behind Princeton in Saturday’s Ivy League opener at Reese Stadium. In fact, it was a position the Bulldogs had been in far too much for head coach Rudy Meredith’s liking during non-conference play.
And as it had done three times earlier this fall, Yale responded. Aerial Chavarin’s goal midway through the second half earned the Bulldogs a 1-1 draw with defending Ivy champion Princeton on a picture-perfect early fall afternoon.
“Psychologically, we knew we could do it,” Meredith said of the comeback.
And Chavarin was the leading candidate to supply the heroics. Her team-leading seventh goal of the season came when she took the ball away from a defender, broke in alone and dribbled past Princeton goalkeeper Natalie Grossie before tapping an easy shot into a wide-open goal.
“She’s so determined,” Meredith said of Chavarin, who created a bunch of havoc for Princeton throughout the game. “When she plays that hard, our others players feed off of her.”
The story of the game, though, was the defensive job Yale did on reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Tyler Lussi, who entered with 51 career goals, the fourth most in Ivy history. Lussi was limited to one high-quality scoring chance, which came in overtime off a deflection.
“It was a team effort,” Meredith said of controlling Lussi. “We really wanted to limit her space. You have to keep an eye on her at all times.”
Princeton (7-1-1, 0-0-1) grabbed the lead with a pretty goal at 18:33. Natalie Larkin sent a ball into the box that appeared to be going right to Yale goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel. Abby Givens, though, got her head on it at the last minute to knock it in.
Trailing 1-0, the Bulldogs (4-3-2, 0-0-1 Ivy) had the better of the play for much of the second half and had a number of good scoring chances before finally converting. Grossi denied the best when she dove to deflect a Fran Steele free kick that somehow made it through a Princeton wall.
The Tigers controlled the first 10-minute overtime period, tallying the only four shots, while the second extra session was more even.
Yale finished with a 13-12 edge in shots.
Fagel, who played all 110 minutes, stopped three shots for the Bulldogs.
“We made a step in the right direction today,” Meredith said. “It was an unbelievable effort from our team to be down a goal in an Ivy game and come back. I’m very proud of them.”
The Bulldogs, who won’t play another home game until Oct. 22 against Penn, return to action next Saturday at Harvard. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.