Bulldogs let victory slip away

While the men’s soccer team flashed talent and potential yesterday against Providence, late lapses in concentration that the Bulldogs from notching their first win of the season.

For the second straight game, Yale (0-0-2) relinquished a one-goal lead late in the game and had to settle for a 1-1 double overtime tie. Last Wednesday’s season opener saw Fairfield tie the game with 13 minutes to go. This time, the Friars (2-0-2) scored the equalizer at Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium with just two minutes left on the clock.

“It was an up and down game,” Yale head coach Brian Tompkins said. “I thought Providence got a lot of pressure on the ball, but we settled down in the second half and played a lot better. We’re still looking for the right blend of players. We need to work on our concentration. There is a lot of inexperience on this team, and when we put ourselves in a good position we need to maintain composure and finish strong.”

Defense dominated the first 40 minutes of the game, as both teams could not string many quality scoring changes together. But midfielder Tyler Guse ’09 ended the scoring drought with four minutes left in the first half. The scrappy freshman picked up a loose ball in the Providence zone and skipped a shot just past Friar goalie Chris Konopka.

“When we were able to keep possession, that’s when things got better for us,” captain Shannon Brooks ’06 said. “We had trouble when we tried to rush [our offense], but once we calm things down, opportunities opened up.”

For the second straight week, Yale’s lone goal came from a rookie’s first career score. Tompkins explained the trend is indicative of a team filled with young talented players waiting for their chance to shine.

“This is a team purposefully without a go-to scorer,” Tompkins said. “We want our players to make the most of whatever chances they get and Tyler did a great job doing that today. There are lot of quality players in this [freshman class] and they were recruited for that purpose, to be big time contributors right away. It might take a while for them to become ‘seasoned’ players, but so far so good.”

With the second half winding down, and Yale hanging onto a 1-0 lead, play became increasingly more physical. Tempers began to flare as both teams aggressively battled for the ball. Questionable calls and non-calls by the referees exacerbated the growing tension both on the field and in the stands. Yet the Bulldogs continued to hang on. With 17 minutes left in the game, Providence nearly tied the game as a shot went past goalie Erik Geiger ’08, but defender James Stewart ’07, playing behind Geiger, quickly deflected it out of harms way.

It looked as if Yale would hold on as Providence squandered chance after chance in the final minutes. The Elis had an opportunity to add an insurance goal with seven minutes left when forward Gage Hills ’07 broke free from Providence defenders only to be stonewalled by Konopka. This proved to be costly for the Bulldogs. In the 88th minute, the Friars’ Ryan Maduro got past defender Jon Skalecki ’06 near the endline and set up Timothy Ritter right in front of the goal for the equalizer. Providence controlled play in both overtimes, but the Friars’ were foiled by the heads-up play of goalie Geiger, who finished with three saves.

Forward Josh Block ’07 attributed Yale’s failure to hold onto late leads to a lack of concentration.

“We need to maintain concentration for all 90 minutes,” Block said. “We can’t have mental lapses. We created chances to score and put the game away but we couldn’t do it. “

Tompkins said the Elis’ inexperience is simply part of the maturation process. However, with Friday’s game against defending Big Ten champion Michigan State looming, the Bulldogs must quicken the learning pace.

“The best possible scenario is to learn while winning,” Tompkins said. “But I guess the next best thing is to learn while tying. The team spirits are high, we just need to keep moving forward. [Michigan State] brings some unique challenges because they are a different type of team. In practice our focus will be on developing the good and trying to address the shortcomings.”

Gage Hills ’07 heads the ball in yesterday’s game against Providence at Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium. The Bulldogs tied the Friars, 1-1.
Daniel Yao
Gage Hills ’07 heads the ball in yesterday’s game against Providence at Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium. The Bulldogs tied the Friars, 1-1.

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