Every true battle has a victor, and although the men’s soccer team fought with valor, they were not victorious.
The Elis (4-4-2, 1-0 Ivy) lost to the No. 17 University of Connecticut (6-2-2) 4-1 last night in a game that saw a notable change in play from the first to the second half. The Bulldogs held the Huskies to a 2-0 lead for most of the game and scored their only goal in the 71st minute.
The first half of the game was more or less a stalemate, with the Huskies scoring in the 40th minute, but had few offensive opportunities before that. Yale, the defending Ivy League champions, played well together and put up a good front against UConn.
“I was very satisfied with their play up until the 40th minute,” Yale head coach Brian Tompkins said.
The Elis kept the ball moving in the offensive third and within the midfield. The defense upheld its pre-game counter-strategy to combat the Huskies.
“Coach did a great job preparing us for the game,” captain and defender Jordan Rieger ’07 said. “Tactically we did what we wanted to do.”
After the first half, the Elis were down 1-0, but when they took the field in the second half, their renewed energy was apparent. After giving up another goal, the Bulldogs eventually scored 26 minutes into the half to bring the score to 2-1 on a goal by midfielder James Stewart ’07 assisted on a cross from forward Alex Munns ’07.
“Before the game Jordan [Rieger] gave me some advice,” Munns said. “He said he’d been watching some UConn film and he saw that the cutback play was on. As I was running the ball I thought, ‘Oh, I’ve seen this before!’ It was just a good run.”
While the goal was the only recorded offensive presence, the Bulldogs put pressure on the UConn defense for 15 to 20 minutes.
“Unfortunately it took us being down two goals to really kick our game into gear,” Tompkins said. “I though we played extremely well after the [Huskies’] second goal.”
Although the Bulldogs lost the game 4-1, the men remained positive about their level of play. They attributed the loss to a few mental errors and were comfortable, though not satisfied, with the outcome.
“You can’t get too down on yourself,” Munns said. “You just gotta know it’s gonna get better.”
Even though they suffered a disappointing loss, all the players acknowledged that they played well and that their level of play will improve after taking on such a formidable opponent. The team played aggressively and gained confidence as the game progressed, Tompkins said.
“One thing that coach said after the game [was], ‘In this game we started to recognize where our strengths were and we really started to play to those strengths,’” Rieger said.
Stewart, Munns, and Tyler Guse ’09 played exceptionally well last night, Tompkins said. Rieger, who played the entire 90 minutes, also said the Bulldogs performed at a very high level.
“We’re starting to become more field savvy,” Rieger said.
While the men highlighted their strengths on the field and noted their respectable play, they still lost 4-1 and will learn from this game as they go into Ivy League play in October.
“If we don’t bring a better level of concentration and competition [in league play],” Munns said, “we’re out.”
The Bulldogs will try to continue their undefeated stance in the Ivy League this Saturday when they take on rival Harvard in Cambridge.