Thursday, October 29, 2015

Making Their Marks in Yale Soccer

Westchester's Sofia Griff '19 (top, no. 5)) and Fallon Sheridan '19 (bottom, no. 11), part of a notable, talented recruiting class, have made big contributions for the Yale women's soccer team this fall (Yale Athletics, Steve Musco photos)
Sofia Griff  '19 and Fallon Sheridan '19 have been soccer teammates, off and on, for a long time. Both grew up in Westchester and lived in neighboring towns. Both played recreational soccer together, starting at age 5. One (Sheridan) went to Ardsley High School. The other (Griff) graduated from nearby Hastings High School in Hastings-on-Hudson, which straddles the Hudson River, but also abuts nearby Ardsley.

Both decided to attend Yale and play on the women's soccer team, entering with six other freshmen in what one national soccer website said was the 12th best recruiting class in the nation.

And in the first year, both have made their marks, although the team has struggled this fall season with a losing record (4-8-2).  Griff has started all 14 games for Yale as midfielder.  Sheridan was a starter in 9 as a defender.  Despite the team's stumbles, Yale coach Rudy Meridith can't help but be confident about the years ahead.  His freshmen corps of eight, including Sheridan and Griff, has scored 13 of Yale's 16 goals this season.

Griff, second on the team in scoring, has contributed 4 goals and 4 assists, including the only goal in Yale's 1-0 win over Villanova earlier this season. (She scored those 4 goals in the first six games.) Sheridan has had 2 assists and has played in every game.  (Michelle Alozie '19, a California native and also a freshman, is the team's leading scorer with 6 goals.)

During high school, Griff and Sheridan took circuitous routes to get to Yale--typical of those with soccer talent pursuing Division I careers in college.  U.S. players of high-school age identified early to have outstanding talent and potential often play for U.S. development and Olympic programs, where competition is greater and where college coaches can observe them closely.

Through her junior season, Sheridan dominated girls soccer at Ardsley, where she was Player of the Year at the school twice, selected three times as All-Section in Westchester, and led her team to league championships. In her senior year, Sheridan decided to play for the New York Rush, a National Premier League team. And in doing so, she joined her childhood friend Griff, who spent all her high-school years playing for the New York Rush and playing in an Olympic development program.

Griff also played sessions for the U.S. Soccer Training Center, where she had an opportunity to play in matches in Costa Rica and Germany. In one rating, she was ranked no. 5 in the New York region.

Their shared interests, common goals and friendship have lasted for years.  In high school, both were involved in Westchester community activities involving the homeless and to food pantries.  Both, in fact, together attended Yale Westchester's reception for admitted students in April. And in this sesaon's Yale team photo, both are kneeling side by side on the front row, a vivid Westchester presence in Yale athletics.

Losses against Ivy League foes (Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, and Penn last week) have been tough. The team, nonetheless, nipped Dartmouth, 1-0, on an Alozie goal assisted by Griff.  Griff, Sheridan and teammates end the season with games against Columbia and Brown, contests they can and hope to win.

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