Season Begins With Heartbreaking Defeat

Sept. 5, 2008

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STORRS, Conn. - If Friday's season opener is any indication, Yale women's soccer fans are in for a very exciting season. The Bulldogs were 1.1 seconds away from knocking off UConn, but the Huskies scored on a free kick to force overtime and then won it when Annie Yi scored with 2:05 left in the second overtime.

UConn was awarded the tying free kick after a Yale player was issued a yellow card for what was ruled a deliberate hand ball. Cory Bildstein blasted it into the left corner from just outside the box.

"It was a very exciting game," said Yale head coach Rudy Meredith. "They had us under a lot of pressure and forced us into a mistake. It was a great free kick. There was nothing we could do."

Yale goalkeeper Ayana Sumiyasu, making her first career start, was outstanding for the Bulldogs. She finished with 14 saves.

"That was one of the best goalkeeping performances I've seen at Yale," Meredith said. "I think Ayana is more comfortable this year. She trained hard in the offseason. Adelaide [Gay] has pushed her hard in practice. We are fortunate to have to have two talented keepers."

The Bulldogs didn't have many scoring opportunities in regulation, but they did take advantage of one of them. Becky Brown settled an Emma Whitfield header, raced down the right sideline and fired a low shot into the left corner to give Yale a 1-0 lead in the 55th minute.

The Bulldogs had a couple of chances to add an insurance goal. UConn goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe dove to her left to snare a Natalia Mann shot from just outside the box with 16 minutes remaining, and a UConn defender headed away a Whitfield shot after Labbe was caught out of position.

After stopping six shots in the first half, Sumiyasu was even better in the second 45 minutes. She made a diving stop to rob Yi early in the half, leaped high to intercept a Melissa Busque cross and punched away a hard shot from Ashley O'Brien, who had gotten behind the Yale defense and was in on a breakaway.

UConn controlled play in the overtimes, outshooting Yale 7-1 and finishing with a 31-6 edge in shots. Yi's game winner came when she took a long ball from midfield, dribbled to 25 yards and fired a shot into the top right corner to spoil Yale's season opener.

"As long as we learn from this, I'm okay with it," Meredith said. "We have to make sure we finish off games. I was very pleased with our effort. We fought very hard."

The Huskies, who have reached the NCAA tournament in each of the last 26 years, were playing their fourth game of the year.

The Bulldogs are back in action on Sunday when they play their home opener against St. John's at 3:30 p.m. at Reese Stadium.

report by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity

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