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NCAA Game(s) of the Week: Harvard at Yale

While both of these Ivys have received votes, neither is ranked in our weekly poll. Will a win for either team this weekend change that?

Nina Lindberg, Yale Athletics

Despite some extremely impressive performances so far this season from Harvard and Yale, neither team has cracked the top ten in The Ice Garden’s weekly NCAA Poll. Could a win this weekend change that for either of these teams, or will they be stuck in “honorable mention” territory for the rest of the season?

Let’s see.

The game will be streamed live on ESPN+ ($).

Harvard (4-2-0) at Yale (4-2-0) | Friday, Nov. 12 at 6 PM ET

Since the Ivy League suspended play during the 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re going to have to throw it all the way back to 2019-20 to see when these two teams last squared off. Both regular season contests saw Harvard topping Yale, though the Bulldogs did get a couple goals in each time. The teams would meet again in the 2019 ECAC tournament, where Harvard won two games to one — and Yale’s only win came in overtime.

So far this season, Yale has shut out — and put up seven goals on — what many expected to be a dominant Cornell team, in addition to blanking a ranked Colgate squad just last weekend. Harvard has had similar success, beating Cornell 4-1 and taking Colgate to overtime, along with a dominant 5-2 victory over #9 Boston College during the past week of play.

That being said, the teams this year are very different from what they were in 2019-20, so really, anything could happen.

Players to Watch

Harvard: Becca Gilmore

The 5’6” Massachusetts native has had a lot of success against Yale in recent years — in the 2019-20 season alone, six of her ten goals on the season came against the Bulldogs. Gilmore also currently leads the Crimson in scoring with six goals, and is part of a two-way tie with Keely Moy for the points lead (9). It’ll take a lot of work to keep Gilmore off the scoresheet, but Yale has a couple of tricks up their sleeves.

Yale: Gianna Meloni

Meloni, Yale’s bona fide starter after the departure of Tera Hofmann to the professional ranks, is currently undefeated and boasts a 0.00 GAA and 1.00 SV% in conference play — obviously, leading the ECAC and the entire NCAA in both categories. She made a career-high 55 saves against Harvard in a triple-OT loss in the postseason back in 2020, so she’s well-versed in the Crimson’s tactics and can definitely hold her own should Yale put her between a rock and a hard place.

Our Thoughts

Anne Tokarski: Honestly, I’m gonna hand this one to Yale...or at least hand one game of this series to Yale, anyways. While Harvard obviously has the history on their side, I think that Yale, what with the brick wall tendencies of Meloni with the potent offense of Claire Dalton, Elle Hartje, and Charlotte Welch, have the capacity to come out on top. Plus, Yale has the upper hand when it comes to experience so far this season, already having toppled a ranked Raiders squad and Cornell. The Bulldogs have my vote.

Gabs Fundaro: I’ll preface this by saying I echo everything Anne said. Yale is a legit contender in the ECAC this year and they’ve been competitive in every game so far. They’ve been able to build on past performances remarkably well already, as shown by their 11-goal weekend last week. I actually think there’s a good chance we see Yale ahead of Harvard in the ECAC standings by the end of the season. But the Crimson have taken their own strides forward this year and their offense typically matches up well against the Bulldogs. This is a great test to see how Yale handles some pressure after a big weekend, and how Harvard handles some of their own after a few tight conference losses so far. I think the Crimson’s balanced attack will continue to find the back of the net and stymy the Bulldogs in this one.

Around (the rest of) the NCAA:

Friday, November 12:

Saturday, November 13: