NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale spent much of spring practice in April focusing on improving a defense that yielded 32 goals last season. After three games this fall, it appears the hard work is paying off. The latest example was an impressive 4-0 victory over Stony Brook on a humid night at Reese Stadium.
The Bulldogs allowed only seven shots, very few of which were high quality chances.
“We’re trying to be more patient on defense, and it’s making a difference,” said Yale head coach Rudy Meredith after his team posted its second straight shutout. “We spent a lot of time on it in the spring. A lot of the credit goes to [Assistant Coach] Eleri [Earnshaw]. She’s been an integral part of [coaching] our defense.”
Of course it helps to have a potent offense. And the Bulldogs seem to have that as well. Sofia Griff scored twice and reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Week Aerial Chavarin added a goal and an assist as Yale remained undefeated.
The Bulldogs are 3-0 for the first time since 2014 and just the second time since 2009.
Yale has outscored its opponents 10-1 after three games.
But it’s the play of the back line that has Meredith excited about what this team can accomplish. And in typical Meredith fashion, he has a unique way of getting his message across.
“I told the team I want us playing like a Marriott Hotel. We want a clean sheet,” he said.
Despite the apparent lopsided score, it took a strong defensive effort to earn the victory. The Bulldogs didn’t grab the lead until late in the first half and needed three goals over the final 17 minutes to really put it away.
Chavarin got things going for Yale when she headed in a perfect corner kick from freshman Kristi Wharton at 39:49.
It stayed 1-0 until 73:48 when Sarah McCauley scored off a throw in from Chavarin. McCauley settled the throw and fired a shot into the corner from 15 yards out.
That goal seemed to take the wind out of Stony Brook’s sail, and Griff capitalized. She scored a pair of goals in a six-minute stretch, both similar in fashion – hard shots 15 yards out.
She now has three goals on the season.
“She strikes the ball better than just about any player I’ve coached,” Meredith said.
The Bulldogs have little time to savor Wednesday’s win. They host St. John’s on Friday at 7 p.m. The Red Storm is the defending Big East champion and reached the NCAA Tournament a year ago.
Meredith, though, believes his team is ready for the challenge.
“The overall vibe of this team is really good,” he said.