September 3, 2006

Fast Start Helps North Carolina Top Yale

Sept. 3, 2006

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Last year, Yale opened the season with losses to Duke and North Carolina, but rebounded to capture the Ivy League title and reach the third round of the NCAA College Cup. The 2006 Bulldogs now hope to follow a similar blueprint for success. Yael Averbuch scored twice and added an assist as eighth-ranked UNC topped 13th-ranked Yale 4-0 in the Yale Classic before a crowd of 2,189 at Reese Stadium. The Bulldogs opened the season by falling to Duke 3-0 on Friday.

The Tar Heels, winners of 17 NCAA championships and boasting a 606-28-18 all-time record, captured the tournament crown. They rallied from a 2-0 halftime deficit to defeat UConn 3-2 on Friday night. UConn beat Duke 2-1 in Sunday's second game.

"Our kids will learn from this, and we'll see the benefits down the road," said Yale head coach Rudy Meredith.

The game got off to a rocky start for the Bulldogs when Averbuch sent the opening kickoff from the midfield stripe into the top center of the goal only four seconds in. It was the fastest goal scored in NCAA women's soccer history.

"You can't give up a goal that fast to a team as good as North Carolina," Meredith said. "It really put us in a hole."

The Tar Heels (4-1) added two more goals before the end of the first half. Robyn Gayle drilled a shot into the top left corner from just outside the box at 12:08, and Averbuch tallied her second goal, blistering a shot into the right corner from the left wing, at 28:21.

"I could tell we were focused in warm-ups today and our first half play manifested that," UNC coach Anson Dorrance said. "We brought awareness to the game and we also talked about precision finishing which we did well."

The Bulldogs picked up their play in the second half, but UNC's Heather O'Reilly scored the only goal at 86:23.

"We played much better in the second half," said Yale goalkeeper Susan Starr, who finished with nine saves. "I was really proud of our team. We wanted to represent Yale and what we stand for."

Starr was named Yale's Defensive Most Valuable Player of the tournament, while sophomore Maggie Westfal earned Offensive MVP honors.

Despite two losses, Meredith was pleased with the tournament.

"It was a great soccer atmosphere. Great for our fans and great for our kids," he said. "Any time we can bring three of the top programs in the country into our stadium, it's a positive."

The Bulldogs are back in action next Friday when they play at Delaware at 7:30 p.m.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity

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