Last week, the men’s soccer team attracted the attention of coaches across the country. This Saturday, Yale will try to appeal to a far more important group of individuals — the NCAA tournament selection committee.
Yale, ranked 22nd in the Nov. 10 National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, travels to Princeton tomorrow to take on the Tigers. With a win, the Bulldogs (9-6-1, 4-1-1 Ivy) will soldify their chances of securing an at-large bid to the tournament.
Brown clinched the Ivy League’s automatic bid in last Saturday’s 1-1 tie with Yale.
“Everyone is pretty optimistic,” defender Marc Vimolratana ’06 said. “We think we have a pretty good shot at winning and making the tournament.”
Over the course of the season, the Bulldogs have compiled an impressive resume. After a 1-3 start, they have won eight of their last 11 games, a span that includes a five-game winning streak. The Bulldogs have also accrued victories over 2002 College Cup runner-up Stanford and then-ranked No.17 University of Connecticut.
Head coach Brian Tompkins said the Bulldogs will certainly get a “look” by the selection committee. But what they are seeking is not just a look, but a nod.
The outcome of tomorrow’s game will likely decide which way the committee shakes its head, forward Lindsey Williams ’05 said.
“It all comes down to the Princeton game,” Williams said. “It’s the biggest game of the season. We have to win.”
The stakes are not nearly as high for the Tigers (6-7-3, 3-2-1), who come into Saturday’s contest having lost five of their last eight games.
There will be no postseason for the Tigers, regardless of how they do. But they will not be lacking motivation. A win over Yale would push their record to .500 and leave the Tigers in a tie with the Bulldogs for second place in the conference.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” Vimolratana said. “We can’t take [Princeton] lightly. It’s on their field and it’s their last game, so they’ll be playing hard.”
Against the Tigers, the Bulldogs will rely on their speed and defense.
However, Saturday’s game will likely come down to Yale’s ability to finish, which has been a weak point for the Bulldogs this season. Last Saturday, Yale outshot Brown 15-2, but only one of those 15 shots made its way into the back of the net.
“We’re going to stick with what we’ve been doing,” Vimolratana said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to convert more on our chances.”
Along with a bid to the tournament, the Bulldogs will be fighting for a share of the Ivy League championship.
Brown already earned at least a share of the title last weekend. The Bears can win the league crown outright with a victory against Dartmouth (6-8-2, 1-5-0) tomorrow. But if Yale defeats Princeton and Brown loses to Dartmouth, the Bulldogs and Bears will split the title.
But right now the Ivy title is not a priority for the Bulldogs.
“We’re not even thinking about that,” Vimolratana said. “That’s out of our hands now. Right now, our focus is on the tournament.”