Two years ago, at the Brown Classic, the men’s soccer team defeated then-defending NCAA champions University of North Carolina. Last season, at the very same tournament, the Elis upset NCAA-finalist Stanford.
This time around, at the Brown Classic in Providence, however, the Bulldogs were unable to repeat history. Yale dropped both its games this weekend, losing 2-1 in overtime on Friday to the University of San Francisco and falling to the Clemson Tigers 3-2 yesterday at Stevenson Field.
The first game, against San Francisco, featured a strong first half from the Bulldogs, punctuated with the first goal of the season by midfielder and preseason All-American Andrew Dealy ’05 in the game’s 22nd minute. The goal was assisted by forward Lindsey Williams ’05.
Despite entering the locker room ahead 1-0, the Bulldogs were unable to hold the lead against the Dons. Defender Alfred Bedrossian tallied a goal for San Francisco in the 47th minute of the game to knot the score at one.
After ending ninety minutes of play still deadlocked, the two teams entered sudden-death overtime searching for the golden goal.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the Dons found it first when forward Luke Holmes nailed an eighteen-yard shot past Eli goaltender Matt Aleksinas ’06 with eight minutes elapsed in overtime.
Bulldogs captain Ryan Raybould ’05 said it was more his team’s mistakes, rather than the play of the Dons, that cost Yale the victory.
“We had a couple of mental lapses in the second half,” he said. “It was our first game, and we were kind of getting our feet wet. It was us not paying attention to small details.”
Head coach Brian Tompkins said the Bulldogs came out a little flat in the second half, and the Dons took advantage.
“We struggled to get a rhythm in the second half,” Tompkins said. “We got careless with the ball and just struggled to take advantage of our possessions. We weren’t really outplayed. We just didn’t play well ourselves.”
Facing the Clemson Tigers of the Atlantic Coast Conference on Sunday, the Bulldogs were looking to bounce back and also play the role of spoiler against a formidable Division I opponent.
The Tigers, however, were not willing to go along with the Elis’ plans, building a 3-1 lead against Yale and coming away with a 3-2 decision.
Clemson defender Landy Mattison slipped a shot past Aleksinas to open up the scoring in the game’s 15th minute. The Bulldogs, though, were able to tie the game up in the 37th minute.
Off one of the Bulldog’s six corner kicks of the game, midfielder Jordan Reiger ’07 lofted a well-placed ball to defender Jake Miller ’07, who was able to get the feed past Clemson goalkeeper Phil Marfuggi.
“I took a couple touches and played [the pass] where I thought Miller would be making his run,” Reiger said. “It was a play we practiced before. It was pretty routine, I guess.”
Miller, who the Bulldogs hope will step up to fill the void left by the departed Brian Roberts ’04 and Marc Vimolratana ’06 on defense, was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Tompkins said this weekend, at least, showed that Miller has the potential to be a major part of the Bulldog defense.
“Jake Miller had a terrific weekend,” Tompkins said. “He did a great job stepping into his new role. Whenever you lose great athletes, you go through an adjustment stage. Jake has made that stage a little easier.”
Fellow sophomore Reiger said he also thinks Miller has stepped up to the challenge of replacing Roberts on the defense.
“After losing Brian [Roberts], Jake was called on to fill that void,” Reiger said. “He’s playing very solidly.”
After Miller’s goal, Tiger forward Steven Rhyne, who also had an assist in the game, scored in the 44th minute to give his team a 2-1 lead. Midfielder Olatomiwa Ogunsola then put the game out of reach for the Elis in the 62nd minute when he scored to make it 3-1.
Williams made the score look a little more respectable when he netted a goal with fifteen seconds to play.
Despite losing to Clemson and leaving Providence without a victory, the Bulldogs believed this weekend was a productive step towards the most important part of the season, the start of Ivy League play Oct. 2.
“Obviously, we would have liked to have won both games or even split them,” Tompkins said. “We’re a team still trying to integrate new players into the system. Looking at the long haul, it was a productive weekend. If we keep progressing, things should be good in time for the Ivy League.”
Raybould said the Bulldogs played better in the second game and that their improvement bodes well for the rest of the season.
“Any good team learns from their mistakes, and we did a better job of making fewer mistakes against Clemson,” Raybould said. “If we continue to improve, I feel come [the Ivy opener] against Harvard, we’ll be running on all cylinders.”