The Yale men’s soccer team was swept on their home turf this weekend after a series of missed opportunities and letdowns.
Two days after losing a tough opening game to Northwestern, the 10th ranked team in the country, the Bulldogs fell to the Sacred Heart Pioneers in the finale of the Yale Soccer Classic. Following the second loss of a grueling weekend for the Yale men’s soccer team, two words could describe the group of footballers — frustrated and weary.
Sunday’s match proved to be a disappointment as well. The Bulldogs dominated possession in the first half but instead of capitalizing on this, saw the Pioneers put one in the back of the net midway through. Sacred Heart midfielder Ricardi Mendes put his head on an accurate cross by Lusiano Dadario for the game’s lone goal at 23:59.
Even with Mendes’ goal, the Bulldogs seemed to have control of the game throughout the first 45 minutes, but they were unable to take advantage of the opportunities. Forward Liam Leonard ’09 had Yale’s best scoring opportunity nine minutes in, when he found his way past Sacred Heart goalkeeper Matt Jones but saw his shot hit off the left post.
“That’s the way soccer is. We created chances but we weren’t able to execute,” Yale head coach Brian Tompkins said. “It doesn’t matter if we control possession if we can’t execute.”
Yale’s possession dominance in the first half led to 6-4 and 5-0 advantages in shots and corners, respectively.
But the second half was a different story, with the Pioneers claiming a 9-4 shot advantage. Sacred Heart matched the Bulldogs in terms of corners, as each team had two in the second half.
“It’s frustrating. We had a lot of corners in the first half but we were unable to finish,” Leonard said. “As time went on, they gained confidence and our frustration increased.”
Adding to the Bulldogs’ disappointment was their substandard performance against a less formidable opponent, after facing a top-tier Northwestern team on Friday night.
Although they fell 3-1 against the Wildcats, team members said they were proud of the hard-fought effort.
“Friday night was a tough game,” captain and goalkeeper Erik Geiger ’08 said. “It took a lot out of us but we’re not going to use that as an excuse.”
The amount of effort expended against Northwestern led to a drop-off in the second game of the weekend, especially for the freshmen on the squad, Tompkins said. Seven freshmen, three of whom started this weekend — Brad Rose ’11, Eric Meyer ’11 and Aden Farina-Henry ’11 — make this year’s team a very young one.
“We looked very weary [Sunday],” Tompkins said. “The younger guys spent a lot of energy Friday night and didn’t seem to have recovered completely.”
Not all was negative for the Bulldogs this weekend, as the team saw two members selected to the Yale Soccer Classic All-Tournament Team. Leonard along with midfielder Alex Guzinski ’09 were singled out among the Bulldogs.
“That was a goal of mine heading into the tournament,” said Leonard. “But I still came up short. I wasn’t as dangerous as I know I could have been.”
The Bulldogs next take the pitch on Friday night on the road against Fairfield, hoping to bounce back towards a successful remainder of the season. Yale will be on the road for three more games to take on St. Francis and UW-Milwaukee at the Dartmouth Classic in Hanover, N.H., and Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass. Their next home game is scheduled for October 6 against Dartmouth.
“We have to regroup physically,” said Tompkins, “and get back to the ABCs, the fundamentals, of the game. We’ll be fine.”