Despite playing some of its best soccer yesterday at Sacred Heart, the men’s soccer team came home with its second straight loss.
The Bulldogs dominated play in the opening minutes, but Sacred Heart pulled out two goals at the end of the first half and added two more in the second half to seal the deal against the Elis for a 4-0 win.
The Bulldogs (2–3–2) started strong, controlling the ball for the first 37 minutes of play. Yet the Elis — who typically have trouble putting their shots away — outshot Sacred Heart (2–3–0) by a margin of 10–4 in the half but simply could not find the net.
Once Sacred Heart’s Giancarlo Massaro scored for the Pioneers, it was downhill for a Bulldog team that continued to compete for the remainder of play, to no avail.
Yale head coach Brian Tompkins owes some of the loss to bad luck.
“We played well and were good in our execution,” he said. “We made some good choices but were unlucky. We hit the posts a couple of times.”
The players echoed Tompkins, noting that the score did not reflect their quality of play. The Elis’ game plan was on track, and they possessed the ball but could not turn their scoring opportunities into goals, players said. In addition to outshooting the Pioneers in the opening frame, the Bulldogs forced two corner kicks and did not allow the home team one.
“We played quite well,” forward Andy Shorten ’11 said. “We possessed the ball well, but when it came to the finishing touch, we just didn’t get the finishing done. We had difficulty in the offensive third.”
Tompkins added, “The score sounds like it was a lopsided game, but it wasn’t. We played very well, but it was difficult for us to dig ourselves out of a hole.”
The Bulldogs tried digging in the second half, playing aggressively on both sides of the field, but some unlucky moments turned into goals for the Pioneers.
After Massaro scored on a free kick in the first, Yale conceded a goal from 30 yards out and another off a turnover before giving up another free kick near their goal. Justin Brewer headed Brian Francolini’s kick into the back of the Elis’ net in the 85th minute to seal the score at 4–0.
“We do deserve it,” Shorten said when asked if the team felt unlucky to have gone down on two free kicks. “You don’t want to give up free kicks. From our standpoint we were doing a great job in the run of play. They couldn’t get a shot to save their lives. If we give them a free kick that gives them a free shot at goal, that gives them a shot at the game. They were opportunistic.”
The Elis’ lineup did not feature many of their usual starters yesterday afternoon, which may have also contributed to the loss. Tompkins offered two of his younger goalkeepers their first opportunities to play. Goalkeeper Matt Chesky ’12 started the game in the net and was substituted in the second half for Bobby Thalman ’13. They both held up well given their inexperience in college competition, but some surprise shots from a distance resulted in goals for the Pioneers.
“They were facing new types of shots. Those were key moments for Sacred Heart,” Tompkins said of his netminders.
Tompkins added that he was pleased with the collective performance yesterday afternoon and that it seemed surreal to lose in a game so well played.
“By in large we controlled the game, but we didn’t take care of business,” Raybould echoed.
The Bulldogs will have to turn around quickly to prepare for this weekend’s game against a well-polished Harvard team, a matchup Yale has lost three consecutive times. It seems, however, the Elis were already doing so on the ride home from Fairfield, Conn.
“This game will last short in our memory banks,” Shorten said.
With the return of some injured starters and better execution on opportunities, the soccer team looks to have a better chance against the Crimson than it did against Sacred Heart.