Solid defense keeps Seawolves at bay, but Elis still tie

The men’s soccer team took the field last night in Long Island against a non-conference squad. Neither team scored, and the game ended 110 minutes later in a scoreless tie. Sound familiar?

Yale’s (3-6-5, 1-1-2 Ivy) sixth overtime match of the season was also their fifth that ended in a tie. The 0-0 result came against the Bulldogs’ final non-Ivy opponent, Stony Brook (9-6-3), at LaValle Stadium last night. After a string of three matches that ended decisively, yesterday’s even outcome put the Elis back on familiar ground.

“It wasn’t uncharacteristic of us this year,” goalkeeper Travis Chulick ’10 said. “They were a good team and they played hard, and our defense is doing a great job making it tough for the other teams.”

The Seawolves pounded shot after shot on the Eli net, but Chulick — who recorded his first minutes of the year — saved eight of the 18 shots on goal and the reliable Bulldog defense blocked two. Yale head coach Brian Tompkins said captain and goalkeeper Erik Geiger ’08 got the night off to give Chulick, the squad’s heir apparent, some experience before the 2008 season.

In a twist of fate, Stony Brook knocked seven balls wide or off the crossbar, inheriting the bad luck that plagued the Bulldogs earlier this season. But four players from the home team racked up two or more shots.

The Seawolves’ offense was held at bay by an impressive effort from Chulick and the staunch back line, leaving a goose egg on the home side of the scoreboard.

“A lot of their shots weren’t quality shots,” Tompkins said. “They were desperation shots. It wasn’t like we were under siege.”

But the Elis could not capitalize on their defensive success and did not manage to turn the game in their favor. Of their nine chances to score, only three were on target. The Bulldogs were unable to recreate the forceful offensive performance they put on against Columbia last Saturday.

The squad’s inability to score, coupled with a solid defensive effort, were more characteristic of the Elis of early October than the Bulldogs of their past three contests. Defender Max Rhodes ’09 said the teams’ control suffered because of a fast, new playing surface at LaValle Stadium.

“It was pretty frustrating because we could have easily won the game,” he said. “We had some opportunities, but they broke down as a result of execution. The new surface made it difficult to possess, and they were putting a lot of pressure on us in the midfield.”

In one sequence of plays, the Bulldogs got the ball up the field after a Chulick save in the 80th minute for a corner kick. Midfielder Jordan Raybould ’10 — who notched his first goal on the season against the Lions — crossed the ball to midfielder Andy Shorten ’11, whose shot met the Stony Brook goaltender.

The resilient Elis got the ball back just 24 seconds later for another Raybould corner kick. But their third opportunity to put the ball in the back of the net failed, and the score remained knotted at zero.

On the other end of the field, the Seawolves kept the visitors on their toes and forced Chulick to make a pair of back-to-back saves in the middle of the second overtime.

“We had some good chances and we gave as good as we got,” Tompkins said. “It was like a heavyweight fight — we went toe to toe and we slugged it out. Amidst the disappointment of a tie there are still good things happening and we’re still accomplishing a lot.”

The Bulldogs’ fifth tie in double overtime bumps their non-Ivy record to 2-5-3.

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