2011 Season Preview: Balanced Attack Key To Yale Success

Miyuki Hino. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Miyuki Hino. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Bulldogs Open Season With Yale Classic Friday, Sunday

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Over the last few years, when the Yale women soccer team needed a big goal, it usually came from Becky Brown. Brown finished her outstanding career with 29 goals, the fifth most in school history. Now that she has graduated, some might think the program is headed downward. Not so, says Yale head coach Rudy Meredith.

"Teams really keyed on Becky," he said. "When she scored we usually won, and when she didn't we were in trouble. This year, I think we can get production from several different players, which will make us harder to defend."

As a result, Meredith is confident his team can remain a serious contender for the Ivy League title.

The Bulldogs have been hard at work over the last two weeks preparing for Friday's opener against Marist, which is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. following the Central Connecticut-Providence game which kicks off at 5 p.m. It's all part of the Yale Classic. The pairings for Sunday are Central Connecticut against Marist at noon, and Yale meeting Providence at 2:30 p.m.

"We have a lot of new faces, so we've been trying to find the right combinations, and what formations will work best," Meredith said of the preseason.

The team has already been dealt a couple of blows. Both captain Miyuki Hino and defender Shannon McSweeney suffered injuries in the offseason and are unlikely to play this fall. Fortunately, Meredith feels he has enough depth to overcome their loss.

Offensively, junior Kristen Forster, a second team All-Ivy selection last fall, has already amassed 24 points (6 goals, 12 assists) in her first two years at Yale. Three of her four goals last year came in Ivy play. Forster will have plenty of support.  Junior Mary Kubiuk shared the team lead with four goals last year. Fellow junior Anne Song also is an offensive threat.

A pair of freshmen forwards could make an impact. Melissa Gavin was an NSCAA All-American after scoring 29 goals and adding 15 assists as a senior last fall at Duxbury High School. Georgiana Wagemann was a four-year starter for Lake Forest Academy and also played for the highly successful Eclipse Select 92/93 club program.

Yale's midfield will be anchored by senior Enma Mullo. She earned honorable mention All-Ivy recognition last year after finishing second on the team with five assists and tying for second with 11 points. In her career she has played in 35 games and has 18 points. Junior Trish Berkanish and sophomores Juliann Jeffrey and Jessica Schloth all were regulars last year. Berkanish, who could see time on defense as well, started 11 games, while Jeffrey and Schloth each appeared in all 17 games.

Junior Jenny Butwin and sophomore Katie Underwood should see playing time as well.

Three freshmen hope to have an impact in the midfield. Frannie Coxe was the county player of the year as a senior at San Clemente High School. Meredith Speck was the 2010 CHSSA League Player of the Year at Sacred Heart Academy, and Muriel Battaglia was a standout with the successful Eclipse Select club program.

Yale's backline is young, but there is experience returning. Junior Torrey Leroy and sophomore Anna McCahon both started 16 of 17 games and helped the Bulldogs post four shutouts. The return of junior Lauren Mathy should also bolster the defense. She was limited to two games last fall because of injury after starting 15 games in her rookie year.

Freshman Madi Bickel brings strong credentials to New Haven. She was an eight-year starter for the Mustang Rampage club team that captured the 2010 ECNL national championship.

One of the biggest challenges facing Meredith is replacing first team All-Ivy goalkeeper Ayana Sumuyasu, who graduated. Fortunately, junior Adele Jackson-Gibson proved to be quite capable in her appearances over the last two years. Last fall, she made 11 saves in four games.

Freshman Elise Wilcox also will compete for time. She was named No. 9 and top goalkeeper on Top 20 Pacific Northwest Players to Watch by TopDrawerSoccer.com.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity