September 29, 2006

Starr And Bulldogs Set To Battle Crimson

Sept. 29, 2006

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Susan Starr's 2006 season took a dramatic turn even before the Bulldogs played their first game. When Chloe Beizer suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason, it left Starr as the only goalkeeper on the roster. Last year, the two split the duties. Beizer started and then Starr came on in relief at the beginning of the second half.

"It's been a big transition," Starr said. "Playing in the second half last year meant that I had to adjust really quickly to how the game was being played. I do feel a lot of pressure because I know how well we did last year, and everyday I want to live up to that and ultimately surpass it. I have the ability to play 90 minutes and that's what every goalie wants to do. I just have to show it, and that takes game experience."

So far, Starr has been up to the challenge. She is third in the Ivy League in saves (33) and save percentage (.750) and posted shutouts in wins over Montana and Hartford.

She'll get another test on Saturday when the Bulldogs travel to Harvard. Like Yale, the Crimson (1-7-1) opened Ivy League play with a victory last weekend, topping Penn 2-1.

Although Beizer isn't able to play, she has still been a fixture on the sidelines at games, which has helped Starr.

"I really value her at games," Starr said. "It helps to have her tell me the things she sees on the field. She has a great vision for soccer along with a very clear way to describe what she sees."

Head coach Rudy Meredith also added Marcela Benitez to the roster, which helped ease the burden on Starr. Benitez was with the team as a freshman in 2003.

After opening the season with disappointing performances against Duke and North Carolina, the Bulldogs (4-4-1) have been playing much better of late. Yale beat Princeton 2-1 in last Saturday's Ivy opener and had won three in a row before falling to 10th-ranked Boston University in overtime on Monday.

"Our team has really improved since the beginning of the season," Starr said. "It took us a few games to really start learning to play together. We are young and despite the talent, we did have some growing pains. Our team connects really well off the field and in other venues than soccer. When we were struggling, no one took it off the field, and that was a huge sign that things were going to be okay."

In the last five meetings between Yale and Harvard, three have gone to overtime, four have been decided by one goal and one ended in a scoreless tie. Last year, Crysti Howser scored just 2:31 into overtime to lift the Bulldogs to a dramatic 2-1 victory.

"In my two years, the Yale-Harvard game has been a dogfight that ends in exciting fashion," Starr said. "It will definitely take a team effort to win, just like the Princeton game. We have to connect on our passes, contain on defense and finish our opportunities in front of the net. We are very dangerous and create great scoring opportunities, but haven't gotten the luck to get the ball in the net. We will need that Saturday."

Fans can follow Saturday's game by visiting Livestats

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity

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