Going into this weekend, the men’s soccer team was perfect at home and winless on the road. But the Bulldogs reversed their fortunes when they played Fairfield and URI, falling at home before earning their first away victory.
Even though Yale (4–3–1) outshot Fairfield 15–8, the Bulldogs were unable to find the net. The Stags (1–4–0) scored only once, off a corner kick that goalie Bobby Thalman ’13 blocked but couldn’t control. The visitors were able to hold on from there for the upset, and their first win of the season. Head coach Brian Tompkins was left scratching his head.
“The game turned on a freak goal,” Tompkins said. “[Soccer’s] a strange game … one week everything you shoot goes in, and the next week it’s difficult to find a goal.”
But any worries that the team had used up all its goals in last Sunday’s 7–0 pounding of Marist were immediately put to rest Sunday when the Bulldogs scored twice in the first 16 minutes at the University of Rhode Island (3–6–0). Brad Rose ’12 scored the first goal into the right side of the net from 20 yards out, and then worked the defense to set up two easy goals for Peter Jacobson ’14 to beat the Rams 3–1.
“Brad took on a couple of guys … they were just easy finishes for me,” Jacobson said. “It’s great to have him back.”
Captain Chris Dennen ’12 was moved back to the defensive side of the ball where he played last year with Marcus DiLallo ’12. Coach Tompkins said the “senior presence” gave the Yale defense a boost.
“In a tough environment and on the road, you need some guys who have been around the block,” Tompkins said.
Dennen said that it is variability — of opponents, fans and weather — that makes away games so challenging.
“We’re happy and excited to get that first road win, and hopefully it’s the first of many,” Dennen said.
Not too many people are predicting a second road victory tomorrow, when the Bulldogs visit No. 2 Connecticut (8–0–0) in Storrs. The Huskies just entered league play, shutting out No. 12 St. John’s 2–0, the same St. John’s squad that shut Yale out 2–0 two weeks ago. UConn has shut out its last five opponents, and has outscored its opponents 15–2 this season. The team said they were looking forward to the challenge.
“They’re an outstanding team,” Tompkins said. “[In the past] we’ve tied them, we’ve beaten them, but we’re not expecting it to be easy.”
Tompkins said for Yale to have any chance they need to communicate, manage the ball well and not waste any chances.
Dennen said the team has improved in game management as players have gotten more experience; but, he added, they still need to focus on playing their own style if they want to win.
“To be the good team that we know we are, we have to use combination plays … give-and-goes, and keep possessions in the opponent’s third,” Dennen said.
More than 5,000 fans attended the game against St. John’s; those numbers will almost certainly be down on Tuesday night, but it will still be a much larger crowd than the Bulldogs are accustomed to. If Tompkins has learned anything from this year’s erratic team, it’s that they have potential.
“There’s no quit in this team, that’s for sure. When they play well they can score goals. We can be a tough defensive team. If we play well, we can make some noise when we enter league play.”
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow night in Joseph J. Morrone Stadium.