With his built 6-foot-1-inch frame and his five o’clock shadow, Alex Munns ’07 does not look like a freshman.
He does not play like one either.
With 5:36 left in the second half, Munns scored the game-winning goal to lift the Yale men’s soccer team over the University of Hartford, 1-0, on Sunday at Yale’s Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium. The win snapped the Bulldog’s six-game home losing streak, which dated back to last season.
“We’ve been dangerous,” head coach Brian Tompkins said. “We’ve been around the box, but we just haven’t been able to get the breaks. Tonight wasn’t lucky. Munsy had a beautiful finish.”
Munns has been one of the lone bright spots for the Bulldogs (2-3), who have struggled this fall. Of Yale’s four goals this season, Munns has scored two — one in each of the Bulldogs’ two wins.
The “wiry strong” freshman from Des Moines, Iowa, also tallied in Yale’s 2-1 win over then-nationally ranked No. 19 Stanford on Sept. 14.
“[Munns] is a good athlete,” Tompkins said. “He’s got great soccer savvy, and he’s only just scratching the surface of his potential.”
Munns has started all but two games this young autumn, but he has been equally effective off the bench, as was the case on Sunday.
Although on the field for opening whistle, Munns was substituted midway through the first half. He was later re-inserted with 10 minutes left in the game — an auspicious move.
Play had been fairly even, with both teams generating their share of scoring chances but neither able to produce a goal. But then, in the 84th minute, the Bulldogs finally broke through when Munns settled a pass from Ryan Raybould ’05, turned, and blasted the ball into the lower-right corner of the net.
“It was either coaching brilliance or perception,” Tompkins said. “Munsy gives us energy and an edge.”
Tompkins said he was pleased with his team’s performance.
“Overall, we did enough to earn the result,” he said. “We deserved this victory.”
Exploiting its superior foot-speed and spreading the field with strings of passes, Yale was able to wear down Hartford while withstanding the repeated counterattacks of the Hawks.
“We had to be careful,” Tompkins said. “Hartford is a counterattack team. They like to sit back and play the long ball, which can get tricky. They have some very talented forwards.”
The Bulldogs’ defense was particularly impressive, Tompkins said.
One glimpse at the stat sheet tells the entire story. The backline of Shannon Brooks ’05, Raybould and Marc Vimolratana ’06 shut down a potent Hartford offense, including Alon Lubezky, one of the most prolific goal-scorers in the nation. The Hartford junior, who has already scored seven goals this season, was held shotless.
Matt Aleksinas ’05 recorded four saves to earn the shutout, the fourth of his career. Ryan Carr made six saves in goal for Hartford.
“Our kids in the back did a great job coming back after having a couple lapses last weekend,” Tompkins said.
For the Bulldogs, Sunday’s win marks a new beginning.
“We didn’t get off to the best start, but that’s in the past,” Munns said. “The season starts now.”
The Bulldogs return to action tomorrow in Storrs against No. 16 University of Connecticut (2-3-1).