With seven new members, a young men’s soccer team is anxious to test itself.
Yale’s loss of four starting defenders to graduation last year was evident as Quinnipiac repeatedly penetrated the Eli defense on Saturday, forcing a tie that snapped Yale’s 10-0 record against the Bobcats.
“The defensive pressure … was not very good during the first half of the game,” head coach Brian Tompkins said of the Eli attackers.
Quinnipiac’s goal a mere 33 seconds after Yale’s own exhibited this breakdown in defense.
Offensively, the Bulldogs struggled as well, with a mixture of veterans and fresh faces on the attack. Throughout the night, the Bulldogs failed to drive through the Bobcats’ line of defense, shooting from unreasonably far distances with little success.
On the occasions when the team did manage to penetrate the defense, Yale frequently failed to shoot at an open goal. Opportunities like this may have cost the Bulldogs an opening day victory.
“We’re definitely going to urge the team to shoot more, so that each game the team gets sharper and sharper,” Tompkins said.
But one ball did make it through the Bobcat defensive line. Rookie Scott Armburst ’13, who scored the sole Yale goal in the game, displayed the shooting prowess Tompkins hopes to foster in his players.
“I wasn’t really thinking before I shot, but when I saw the ball go into the back of the net, I was just overjoyed,” Armburst said. “I was really excited about the goal until about 30 seconds later when I wasn’t so excited. Defensively we could have been a little tighter.”
But after a shaky first half, the second half left Tompkins more optimistic.
“A second-half change in the defensive approach resulted in some success. I’m not very happy about the outcome of the game, but I am pleased by the response in the second half,” Tompkins said.
Goalkeeper Travis Chulick ’10 shared Tompkins’ optimism.
“Despite Quinnipiac’s good off-ball runs and 18 shots on goal, the four guys on defense knocked off a lot of shots,” Chulick said.
Defenseman Milan Tica ’13, one of two rookies on the Eli back line, considered Saturday night a defensive success.
“I thought we played well thanks to an intense preseason both mentally and tactically,” he said. “We were unlucky with the score.”
The tied score after double overtime reflected the improvements the Bulldog defense made.
Given the changes the Bulldog defense made for the better in the second half, the back line should only improve as the season goes on.
Following a rigorous preseason training session, Quinnipiac provided the first of many challenges to the Elis. The transition from preseason to season is always a difficult one, especially for a young team.
“The water is a lot deeper in a game, and it has sharks in it,” Tompkins said.
Game one may not have resulted in a win, but the basic ingredients for future success may lie with the new class of Elis.