September 4, 2008

Season Begins With A Pair Of Big East Opponents

Sept. 4, 2008

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Expectations are high for the 2008 Yale women's soccer team. The Bulldogs return a number of key players from last year's team that won 11 games and narrowly missed receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA College Cup. Yale will be put to the test right away, opening the season against a pair of talented Big East opponents starting at UConn (GameTracker) on Friday night at 7 p.m. St. John's (GameTracker) visits Reese Stadium on Sunday for the home opener at 3:30 p.m.

The Bulldogs, ranked fourth in the Northeast by the NSCAA and second by SoccerBuzz, have an excellent mix of talent and depth. Seniors Emma Whitfield and Maggie Westfal lead a potent offense, while seniors Natalia Mann and Hayley Zevenbergen anchor an experienced defense that yielded only 18 goals last year.

UConn, which has reached the NCAA Tournament in each of the last 26 years, has already played three games. The Huskies (1-2) are coming off a 3-0 loss to fourth-ranked Florida State last Sunday at Penn State's Tournament. UConn goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe was recently named to the 2008 Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy Watch List.

Yale and UConn are playing for the first time since 2004, a 2-0 Bulldog victory. The Huskies, though, lead the all-time series 20-2-2.

St. John's (3-0) also has played three games, winning each by 1-0 scores. The Red Storm is receiving votes in this week's NSCAA top 25 national poll. Amanda Santos scored the winning goal in two of the victories. Goalkeeper Kristen Russell was selected as the Big East Goalkeeper of the Week after posting shutouts against Towson and Delaware.

Sunday will be the third meeting between Yale and St. John's. The teams split the first two games.

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Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity