Freshman Noelle Higginson made her head coach look pretty smart Saturday against Dartmouth. A little over two minutes after Rudy Meredith subbed her into the game for the first time in the second half, Higginson delivered with her first career goal as Yale earned a very important 1-0 Ivy League victory over the Big Green at Burnham Field.
After opening with a tie and a loss, Yale was desperate for a victory to remain in the Ivy race. With the game scoreless into the second half and time starting to become a factor, Meredith elected to switch from a 3-5-2 formation to a 4-3-3. That meant inserting Higginson into the midfield.
“I wanted our midfield to join the attack,” Meredith said.
It didn’t take long for the move to pay off. Higginson came on at 70:38, and at 72:42, she rifled a shot into the top of the net from 20 yards out.
“It was one of our best goals of the year,” Meredith said.
Higginson has been working her way back to full strength after missing some time with an ankle injury.
“She showed she’s ready [for a larger role],” Meredith said.
Junior Hannah Coy set up the goal by making a nice pass to Higginson. Coy, who suffered a serious injury late last season, was playing in her first game this fall.
“Hannah gave us a boost off the bench,” Meredith said. “I think it inspired the team seeing her out there.”
Yale’s defense did an excellent job holding Dartmouth’s offense in check. The Bulldogs limited the Big Green to two shots in the first half and only nine for the game.
Freshman goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel stopped seven shots to post her first career shutout.
“Alyssa played very well,” Meredith said. “She made some big saves, especially in the second half after we got the lead.”
It was the third straight season that Yale blanked Dartmouth. Three of the last four games between the teams have ended 1-0, and the other was a scoreless tie.
“We got a very, very good effort from everybody,” Meredith said. “It was a typical, hard-fought, scrappy Ivy League game.”
The Bulldogs also received some good news in other Ivy results. Harvard, which beat Yale 2-1 last Saturday, suffered its first blemish of the season, playing a scoreless tie with Cornell, while defending champion Princeton was knocked off by Brown.
The Bulldogs play their third of three-straight road games at Cornell next Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. in Ithaca.