Final Home Game For Yale's Four Seniors
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Saturday's game with Brown will be special for the four seniors on the Yale women's soccer team regardless of the outcome. The four, who will be playing their final home game, will be honored prior to kickoff. There is a chance, however, that it could be an even more memorable night. If the Bulldogs beat Brown and Columbia knocks off Harvard, Caitlin Collins, Sophia Merrifield, Leslie Perez and Hannah Smith will walk off the Reese Stadium field for the final time as Ivy League champions. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. and free audio is available from wybc.com.
Yale (9-6, 4-2 Ivy) enters the game three points behind Harvard, but with a Bulldog victory coupled with a Crimson loss, the two teams would share the Ivy crown. Harvard, which plays at Columbia on Saturday at 7 p.m., would earn the Ivy's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by virtue of its 3-2 win over Yale on Oct. 20.
Yale's Class of 2010 has played a key role in this year's success. Combined, the four have started 195 games and helped the Bulldogs to nearly 40 victories.
Collins has played a key role on a Yale defense that has posted 13 shutouts in the last two years. This season she has started all 15 games and was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District I second team. As a junior she earned honorable mention All-Ivy recognition after starting a career-high 16 games. In her sophomore year, she tied for the team lead with four assists and scored in Yale's victory over Harvard. Her first career goal came in her rookie year and was the game-winner in the Bulldogs' victory over Hartford.
Perez has been one of Yale's most dynamic offensive players during her career. This fall, she has career highs in games started, assists and points and scored the game-winning goal in Yale's victory over Sacred Heart. As a junior she tied for fifth on the team in points and had the game-winning goal against Delaware. In her sophomore year she tied for third on the team in goals and was fourth in points. All of her goals that season came in Yale victories. In her rookie year, she was limited to nine games because of an injury but still assisted on the winning goal against Montana.
Smith has appeared in every game since arriving at Yale. This fall, she has helped anchor a Yale defense that has been one of the stingiest in the Ivy League. In her junior year, she helped the Bulldogs post seven shutouts and scored a goal against Fairfield. In her sophomore season, she started 16 of 17 games and scored her first career goal in a 3-1 victory over Brown. As a rookie, she made her first career start in the season opener against Duke and was one of only six players to appear in all 17 games.
Merrifield, the team captain, has been a starting defender for the Bulldogs since the day she stepped on campus and has earned All-Ivy recognition in each of her first three years. She was selected as one of 30 candidates for the 2009 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award prior to the start of the season and was recently named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District I third team. As a junior she was a first team All-New England and second team All-Ivy selection after helping to anchor a Yale defense that posted seven shutouts. In her sophomore year she earned first team All-Ivy recognition and was named to SoccerBuzz All-Northeast Region second team. In her rookie year she was a second team All-Ivy selection and scored her first career goal against Cornell.
The Bears (5-8-1, 2-4 Ivy) are led by Joyce Chun, who has a team-high four goals. Steffi Yellin (1.44 GAA) and Brenna Hogue (1.48 GAA) have split time in goal. Brown edged the Bulldogs 2-1 in Providence last year. Sylvia Stone scored her second goal of the game with 2:43 left in the second overtime to win it.
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity