The men’s soccer team faces a must-win game at Brown tonight.
The Bulldogs (6-9, 3-2 Ivy) and Bears (7-5, 3-2) are part of a four-way tie with Harvard and Princeton for second place in the Ivy League standings. Both Yale and Brown need a victory tonight to remain in contention for the Ivy League title. The Bears, who have given up only two losses on their home field, will be tough competition for the Bulldogs. In the last 10 seasons, Brown has won or shared the conference title seven times, while Yale has not won a championship since 1991.
After dropping their previous game to Columbia 1-0, the Elis are looking to make a strong showing in Providence.
“If we’re going to have any chance of sharing the title or getting it, we have to win,” Yale head coach Brian Tompkins said. “It’s do or die for us tomorrow.”
The Yale offense will face an exceptionally strong defensive team. Brown’s keeper, Chris Gomez, is ranked third in the Ivy League in saves and saves per game, with 55 and 3.93, respectively. He is tied for first in shutouts this season, with five. Supporting Gomez in the backfield is a strong core of veteran defenders anchored by Jeff Larentowitz.
“I think they’re very, very competitive, especially at home,” Tompkins said. “It’ll be hard to get goals against them.”
The Bulldogs will be looking to forwards Lindsey Williams ’05, Gage Hills ’07 and Alex Munns ’07 to attack the Brown net. Munns leads the team in goals this season with six, the third most in the Ivy League. Hills and midfielder Andrew Dealy ’05, the Bulldogs’ other two main offensive threats, have four goals apiece.
In order to win, the Bulldogs need to play 90 minutes of exceptional soccer. Although the Elis were plagued early on by scoring difficulties and mental lapses, they have played more cohesively of late. They must continue to play strong, smart soccer if they hope to pull off the win in Providence. Beating the Bears will show just how far Yale has come since its disappointing 0-6 start.
“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity and I know the team is,” Eli captain Ryan Raybould ’05 said. “It’s a chance to make the season great.”
Yale and Brown have an extremely competitive history. In their last three meetings, the teams have gone 1-1-1. Each of the wins was decided by just one goal.
“It’s not going to be easy because Brown is a very good team,” Raybould said. “They’re well coached and they’ve always been good. It’s going to be a battle.”
During the Elis’ most recent time on the field, Columbia scored an early goal, and Yale could not capitalize on any scoring opportunities to make up the deficit. To have a chance at downing the Bears, the Bulldogs need to be focused and intense from the opening whistle.
“I think we need to apply ourselves a little bit better,” Tompkins said. “I thought we had a bit of a sluggish start to the Columbia game.”
Although a win would give Brown a shot at their eighth conference title in 11 years, the Bears refuse to think further than tonight’s game.
“We just think it has to do with us against Yale,” Brown head coach Mike Noonan said. “That’s all we’re concentrating on. We expect them to be good and we’re hoping to match what they have.”