August 31, 2007

Bulldogs Cruise Past Bucknell In Season Opener

Aug. 31, 2007

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The schedule said it was the season opener, but the Bulldogs appeared to be in mid-season form Friday against Bucknell. Maggie Westfal, Becky Brown and Leslie Perez each scored second-half goals as Yale cruised to a 3-1 victory over the Bison at Reese Stadium.

"It's a good start," said Yale head coach Rudy Meredith. "Everybody got a chance to play, so we were able to get a look at everyone."

After a scoreless first half, the Bulldogs tallied twice in a 1:09 stretch early in the second half. Westfall opened the scoring when she settled a Hannah Smith throw in and lofted a shot over the head of Bucknell goalkeeper Kathryn Sutton from nearly 35 yards out at 59:41.

Smith also set up Yale's second goal. She sent a cross to the right corner of the box where Brown left-footed it into the left corner of the net. It was her first career goal. Smith's two assists were the first points of her career.

Perez scored Yale's third goal at 73:18. Natalia Mann hit her in stride with a long pass from the midfield. Perez raced up field, maneuvered around Sutton and fired a shot into the empty net.

"We moved the ball really well and did a good job of creating scoring chances," Meredith said. "We also did a good job of limiting their opportunities."

Yale, which won its season opener for the first time since 2004, outshot Bucknell 19-13.

Kelliann Doherty spoiled the Bulldogs' bid for a shutout by scoring at 79:46 on a direct kick.

Susan Starr played the first 45 minutes in goal for Yale and made two saves. Freshman Ayana Sumiyasu, who earned the victory, came on at the start of the second half and also finished with two saves.

The Bulldogs controlled play for most of the first half, outshooting Bucknell 10-4, and had a number of quality scoring chances. Emma Whitfield got behind the Bison defense just three minutes in, but her shot from point-blank range was stopped by Sutton.

Westfall settled a nice cross from Mann in the 21st minute, but her chip shot went just over the crossbar. Less than six minutes later, freshman Kate Macauley split Bucknell's defense and broke in alone, but Sutton raced out of the net to smother the shot.

"In the first half, we had trouble putting our shots on goal," Meredith said. "In the second half, we picked it up and took advantage of our opportunities."

Bucknell's best chance of the first half came late, but Starr stopped Doherty's hard shot from just inside the box.

The Bulldogs are off for the remainder of the Labor Day weekend and will travel to Chapel Hill. N.C., next weekend to play Duke on Friday and North Carolina on Sunday.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity