Big Tests Await Bulldogs On Opening Weekend

Aug. 31, 2006

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Four of the nation's top women's soccer programs will be on display this weekend at Reese Stadium for the Yale Classic. The tournament kicks off on Friday at 4 p.m. when 11th-ranked Duke plays 13th-ranked Yale in a rematch of last year's memorable NCAA College Cup game. Eighth-ranked North Carolina battles No. 25 UConn at 6:30 p.m. On Sunday, Yale and UNC meet at 11:30 a.m. followed by UConn against Duke at 1:30 p.m. Admission to all four games is free.

The Classic also features three of the nation's top players. Yale's Christina Huang, North Carolina's Heather O'Reilly and UConn's Niki Cross were all named to the 2006 Hermann Trophy Watch List. The Hermann Trophy is awarded in November to the National Player of the Year.

Unlike the three other schools, the Bulldogs will be playing their season openers. Yale is coming off the most successful season in school history. The Bulldogs won a school-record 15 games, captured their first Ivy League title since 1992, advanced to the third round of the NCAA College Cup for the first time and finished the season ranked 13th in the final NSCAA/adidas national poll, the highest ranking in school history.

Yale advanced to the third round of last year's College Cup with a thrilling 2-1 victory over Duke at Reese Stadium. Laurel Karnes scored the game-winning goal when she deflected in a Crysti Howser cross with one second left in the second half. It was second meeting of the season between the teams. The Blue Devils beat the Bulldogs 1-0 in Durham in early September.

Duke opened its season last weekend with victories over St. Louis (3-1) and Western Carolina (1-0). Four different players have scored goals for the Blue Devils. Rebecca Moros, who scored in the opener against St. Louis, also has two assists and leads the team with four points. Moros played in the Nordic Cup with the U-21 U.S. National Team this summer. Junior goalkeeper Allison Lipsher has 18 career shutouts. She made one save in blanking Western Carolina last Sunday.

UConn defeated Hofstra 4-0 and tied Maine 1-1 last weekend in Storrs. Annie Yi, Elizabeth Eng, Alexandra Zedros and Courtney Sands scored in the win over Hofstra. Despite holding a 25-5 advantage in shots, UConn had to settle for a 1-1 tie with Maine. Niki Cross scored the Huskies' goal in the 57th minute. UConn was picked as the preseason favorite in the Big East's Atlantic Division. The Huskies finished the 2005 campaign with a 15-5-2 overall record, 10-1-0 in the BIG EAST. UConn went on to receive its 24th consecutive NCAA College Cup bid.

North Carolina's O'Reilly was selected as the preseason National Player of the Year by soccerbuzz.com. UNC fell to Texas A&M 1-0 in overtime last Friday. It was the first time since 1983 that UNC dropped its season opener. The Tar Heels rebounded to defeat SMU 3-0 on Sunday and UNC Greensboro 1-0 on Tuesday. UNC has won 17 NCAA women's soccer championships and began the year with a 602-27-18 all-time record.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity