The women’s soccer team (12-3, 7-0 Ivy) defeated Yale (3-14, 1-6 Ivy) Saturday in New Haven in a five-goal thriller to conclude the regular season. The Bears topped the Bulldogs 3-2 to secure the first 7-0 Ivy League record in the history of the women’s soccer team, while also ensuring Brown would hold sole possession of the Ivy League title.
Forward Brittany Raphino ’23 scored all three Bruno goals, including the winner, a well-placed header that broke a 2-2 tie with 15 minutes remaining.
“I knew I was going to get chances,” Raphino said. “I just needed to capitalize.”
The Bears got off to a slow start, with Yale dictating possession in the attacking third for the first few minutes, culminating in a seventh-minute Bulldog goal. Yale’s Ellie Rappole dribbled into the 18-yard box near the goal line and fired a low cross across the face of goal to find teammate Chloe Laureano at the back post for a tap-in.
“It was definitely a wake up call for all of us when that happened,” goalkeeper Kayla Thompson ’21.5 wrote in an email to The Herald. “It forced us to come together, reset and work hard to come back.”
After the goal, Brown ramped up the pressure on Yale’s pass-heavy offense and sent repeated long passes behind the Bulldog defense for Raphino and forward Ava Seelenfreund ’23.5 to run onto.
In the 10th minute, after a Brown corner kick was flicked towards the opposite sideline, midfielder Zoe Maxwell ’22.5 recovered the ball, drove into the box and was tripped by her defender, leading to a penalty kick.
Raphino took the kick, confidently rifling the ball into the top right corner to level the game.
The goal gave the Bears momentum, according to Raphino. “We took that energy (from the penalty kick) and ran with it,” she said.
In the 14th minute, midfielder Maesyn G’Bye ’22 picked up the ball near midfield on the left sideline and lobbed a through ball over the Yale defense. Raphino, battling against a Yale centerback, sprinted onto the pass, dribbled past the onrushing goalkeeper and slotted the ball inside the left post for a 2-1 Bruno lead.
Trailing for the first time in the game, Yale regained their dominance of possession and struck back in the 22nd minute. Off of a corner kick, Nana Yang’s commanding header rocketed past Thompson.
Brown mostly controlled the rest of the half, creating a number of chances on goal, including powerful shots from Seelenfreund, Raphino and midfielder/forward Kayla Duran ’23 — but the Bears were unable to find the back of the net.
After a four-goal first half, the second half began more cautiously. The ball remained trapped inside the Yale zone for long periods, but Brown was unable to create many clear-cut chances. Seelenfreund again failed to get on the scoresheet, scorching a shot right at the keeper and having another powerful effort blocked.
Finally, in the 75th minute, a shot from forward Claire Myers ’22 forced a save from the Yale goalkeeper, earning Brown a corner kick. Sheyenne Allen ’23 delivered the corner to the near post, where Raphino, a step in front of her marker, flicked the ball over the head of the keeper into the net.
The goal was Raphino’s 11th of the season, and eighth in the Ivy League.
“(Raphino) puts the team on her back all the time without a question,” Allen said. “That’s what drives her to be one of the best players in this country.”
For the rest of the game, Yale controlled most of the possession but couldn’t create significant opportunities against Brown’s defense. A crucial interception from Duran took away Yale’s most dangerous late chance, and Brown was able to emerge with a 3-2 win, delivering the Ivy League championship solely to the Bears.
“After all of our hard work this season and knowing what this team is capable of, we weren’t looking to share the title with anyone,” Thompson said.
Brown’s perfect record in Ivy League play was particularly special after 2019’s team came up just short, finishing 6-0-1, and the team’s 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19.
“We wanted the perfect Ivy League season so badly,” Allen said.
“It’s amazing,” Raphino said. “Coming back from the year off because of Covid … (and) to be able to do the same thing but better … I’m just so proud of all of us.”
The Bears now move on to the NCAA Tournament. Their opponent will be announced during the NCAA Selection Show today at 4:30 p.m.
Brown’s players are confident they can make a deep run, no matter who they face. “We want to see how far we can take things this year,” Allen said. “We can be a big problem.”