The Yale men’s soccer team faced its first test this weekend in their season opener against local rival Quinnipiac. After an hour and a half of play and two 10-minute overtimes, the Bulldogs and Bobcats tied 1-1.
“I’m not necessarily happy about the outcome,” head coach Brian Tompkins said. “But I am happy about our response after the first half.”
The lone goals of the game were scored under a minute apart just as the first half came to an end. Scott Armburst ’13, who made his Yale soccer debut Saturday, successfully sent the ball sailing past the Quinnipiac goalkeeper, Frederick Hall, from 20 yards out. Seconds later, the Bobcats’ Dwayne Mars snuck a shot past Travis Chulick ’10, scoring the second and final point of the match.
“I was so excited, but 30 seconds later, not so excited,” Armburst said, referring to the successive goals in the first half. “When I went to score the goal, I wasn’t really thinking. It was just: Ball? Shoot? Yes!”
During the second half, the Bulldogs amped up the intensity and played a much more aggressive game. Though they created more shooting opportunities than in the first half, split-second delays and the Bobcat defense prevented any further scoring for the Elis.
“We’ll need to play tighter,” Armburst said. “We had lots of chances, we just need to put them away.”
Tompkins added, “We became more dangerous in the second half and created more shooting opportunities.”
Milan Tica ’13, who also made his Yale debut Saturday, and Aden Farina-Henry ’11 had prime scoring opportunities in the second half. Tica’s free kick was deflected by Hall, and Farina-Henry’s header narrowly missed.
In the first 10-minute overtime, Farina-Henry tried again to put a header into the net, but it went wide to the right. The Bobcats came close to a last-minute victory, with an attempted shot bounced off of the left goalpost. Chulick made a total of four saves for the Elis, half as many as Hall.
“The guys on defense really took some of the burden off of me,” Chulick said.
The team is young, and freshmen members of the squad were called upon to fill positions left vacant from last year’s graduating class.
“We’re definitely going to urge them to shoot more,” Tompkins said, referring to some missed scoring opportunities during Saturday’s game. “Sometimes it’s a matter of confidence or concentration. The freshmen are still learning how to play games under pressure.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, the Elis are concentrating on increasing their defense and improving as a team from one game to the next.
“We’re a work in progress,” Tompkins said. “We knew that this would be a stiff challenge and overall, we learned a lot from it.”
Tompkins reiterated the team’s goal of long-term improvement and growth.
“The water is deeper in a game than in practice,” Tompkins said. “And it has sharks in it.”
The Bulldogs are on the road next weekend, playing Adelphi on Friday and SMU on Sunday in Providence, R.I.