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Women's Soccer Season Preview

Yale's Melissa Gavin
Yale's Melissa Gavin

Complete Release (PDF)

PRINCETON, N.J. -- The 35th season of Ivy League women’s soccer gets underway this weekend as the Ancient Eight begin their respective non-conference slates on Friday.

The same League squad that closed out the 2011 season will kick off the 2012 campaign, as defending champion Harvard will play on Friday at 1:30 p.m. with a contest at in-state rival UMass as part of a double-header with the two schools’ men’s teams.

Five other Ivy teams kick off their seasons on Friday. The Princeton Invitational will begin with Colgate facing Hofstra at 5:00 p.m., followed by the host team taking on Wake Forest at 7:30 p.m. Penn will host James Madison at 7:00 p.m. Yale and Brown each play at 7:00 p.m., at Hartford and St. John’s (N.Y.), respectively. Dartmouth will head south to face UCF at 7:30 p.m. in the opening day of the Central Florida Tournament.

Columbia and Cornell will open their campaigns with the DC Invitational in Washington. On Saturday, the Lions will face George Washington and the Big Red will take on Georgetown, and they will swap opponents on Monday.

On Sunday, Dartmouth will continue its southern living with its second game of the Central Florida Tournament, this time against South Florida at noon. Yale will travel to Stony Brook for a 2:00 p.m. contest and Princeton will take on Colgate at 2:30 p.m. in its second game of the Princeton Invitational. Brown will host New Hampshire at 5:00 p.m. and Penn will host Philly rival Temple at 8:00 p.m.

On the individual side, the League has many returning All-Ivy players and future stars to keep an eye on.

The entire group of defenders from the All-Ivy first and second teams graduated, leaving the door open for higher scoring in 2012. Penn junior Kathryn Barth, who set career-highs in 2011 while tying for the League lead in points (24), goals (eight) and assists (eight), returns, as does Princeton senior Jen Hoy (eight goals, five assists) and Yale sophomore Melissa Gavin (six goals, seven assists). Gavin was the 2011 Ivy Rookie of the Year. Yale sophomore Meredith Speck, who joined Gavin on the All-Ivy first team in 2011, finished with 12 points on four goals and four assists.

The League may have lost some of its top defenders, but its two best goalkeepers return, in Penn senior Sarah Banks and Brown junior MC Barrett. Harvard will be without the services of 2011 Player of the Year and unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection Melanie Baskind, but junior Peyton Johnson will pick up the slack. Last season, Johnson finished with 11 points on four goals and three assists.

Dartmouth returns a pair of second team midfielders in senior Emma Brush and junior Chrissy Lozier, while Cornell welcomes back senior forward Maneesha Chitanvis, who earned All-Ivy honorable mention accolades as a junior after posting 12 points on five goals and two assists, all team-highs.

Friday, August 31
Harvard at Massachusetts, 1:30 pm
James Madison at Penn, 7 pm
Yale at Hartford, 7 pm
Brown at St. John’s (N.Y.), 7 pm
1 - Wake Forest at Princeton, 7:30 pm
2 - Dartmouth at UCF, 7:30 pm

Saturday, September 1
3 - Columbia at George Washington, 1 pm
3 - Cornell at Georgetown, 1 pm

Sunday, September 2
2 - Dartmouth vs. USF, 12 pm
Yale at Stony Brook, 2 pm
1 - Colgate at Princeton, 2:30 pm
New Hampshire at Brown, 5 pm
Temple at Penn, 8 pm

Monday, September 3
3 - Cornell vs. George Washington, 1 pm
3 - Columbia vs. Georgetown, 1 pm
Boston U. at Harvard, 7 pm

1 - Princeton Invitational (Princeton, N.J.)
2 - Central Florida Tournament (Orlando, Fla.)
3 - DC Invitational (Washington)

With a seven game League schedule and no championship tournament, every Ivy contest has big ramifications in the chase for the League title and subsequent automatic NCAA bid. In fact, no League champion has ever finished with more than one League loss.

In 34 seasons to date, the Ivy League title has been won outright 27 times. The championship has been successfully defended (meaning at least one of the previous season’s champions won the League title the following season) 14 times. The last team to successfully defend the Ivy title was Harvard, which shared the 2008 title with Princeton and won the 2009 title outright.

The last time consecutive Ivy championships were won in outright fashion was 1996 and 97, when Harvard the second and third of its three consecutive titles. The most dominant stretch of title defenses was put together by Brown when it won the first nine League titles under the round robin format from 1982-90 (including sharing the 1982 title with Princeton and the 1987 title with Cornell).

Princeton was the last team to post a perfect League season, finishing 7-0-0 en route to claiming the 2004 Ivy title. It was the fourth time the League champion finished with a perfect 7-0-0 mark. Since the seven game slate began in 1992, six Ivy champions finished without a loss but had at least one tie. Brown was the first team to post an unbeaten mark in League play with a 5-0-0 record in 1983. The Bears also went 5-0-0 in 1984 and finished 6-0-0 in 1988 and 1990.
Entering the final day of the regular season, Harvard needed a win over Columbia to take the Ivy League title outright and earn a berth to the NCAA Championship. Thanks to a pair of freshmen, the Crimson did just that, beating the Lions, 1-0, behind a goal from Lauren Urke and stellar goalkeeping by Bethany Kanten.

With the win, Harvard finished the regular season 12-4-1 overall and 6-0-1 in the Ancient Eight. The Crimson posted an unbeaten record in the Ivy League for the first time since going 7-0-0 and winning the conference in 1999. Harvard’s 12 wins is also the most for the program since the 1999 season.

Penn, which placed second in the League with a record of 5-1-1, was elminated from title contention despite its 3-1 win over Princeton on the final day of the regular season. The Quakers fell to the Crimson, 2-0 on Sept. 23, in the first Ivy contest of the season for both teams.