NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale women’s soccer team used a balanced performance to knock off America East preseason favorite Hartford on Wednesday night. The Bulldogs scored a pair of goals off corner kicks and limited the Hawks’ scoring chances in a very efficient 2-0 victory on a chilly night at Reese Stadium.
After allowing 11 goals in two games last weekend, Yale smothered Hartford’s offense, allowing the Hawks just eight shots, very few of which were high quality chances.
“I was happy we got the shutout,” said Yale head coach Rudy Meredith. “In the last few days we watched some film and really emphasized cleaning up our defensive performance.”
Offensively, Yale capitalized on two corner kicks in the second half. Shannon McSweeney scored her first career goal at 57:54 to snap a scoreless tie, and Muriel Battaglia added the insurance goal at 74:32. Both goals were headers directly off a corner kick.
“The last time we scored two goals in a game off of headers, I had an afro,” Meredith joked.
The other common denominator on both goals was Frannie Coxe, who sent the long balls into the box.
“We recruited Frannie for her ball striking ability,” Meredith said. “I remember watching her take free kicks in high school. It’s probably her biggest strength.”
Coxe now leads the team with five assists.
Getting goals from McSweeney and Battaglia also was a welcome sight for Meredith. Entering the game, Yale’s eight goals had come from three different players.
“We certainly want to be more balanced,” Meredith said.
Goalkeepers Elise Wilcox and Rachel Ames each played a half to combine for the shutout, Yale’s second of the season.
With a 4-1 record, the Bulldogs are off to their best start since the 2004 team won its first five games of the season.
Wednesday was the start of a busy week for Yale, which hosts Sacred Heart on Friday and is at Fairfield on Sunday. The Ivy League opener, Sept. 28 at Princeton, also is looming on the horizon.
“This is a very important stretch,” Meredith said. “We have to be very careful that we try and stay healthy and fit. It’s tricky.”
Meredith used 19 players against the Hawks but four – McSweeney, Anna McCahon, Meredith Speck and Melissa Gavin – played the full 90 minutes.
Friday’s game with Sacred Heart is a 7 p.m. kickoff at Reese.