The Bulldogs pulled off their first winning season in six years Saturday.
Although Yale’s game against Princeton this weekend was not for the Ivy championship, the team managed to put the breaks on a losing streak. The Bulldogs beat Princeton 2-1 on the road Saturday and finished the season over 0.500 in wins for the first time since 2005. Captain Chris Dennen ’12 said the win was important for the team to maintain a winning record. Had Yale fallen to the Tigers, the Bulldogs would have finished with a losing 7–8 record.
“We’ve had a successful season … It was something we wanted for ourselves,” Dennen said. “We deserved a winning record.”
This year marks the first winning season for Dennen. During his freshman year, the team went 7-7 overall and 3-3 in Ivy League play. In 2009 and 2010, however, the Elis won a combined three Ivy League games. In both years the team dropped its season finale to Princeton. This year, the Elis entered the game on a two-game losing streak, after both Columbia and Brown kept them out of the score column.
After the first half at Princeton, the Bulldogs trailed by one. But at halftime Dennen said the team’s confidence remained high.
“We said if we score a goal, we’re going to win this game … We’ve got 45 minutes to make this right,” Dennen said. “Everyone was focused and came out with good determination.”
Foward Peter Jacobson ’14 would score off of two long balls from outside defender Milan Tica ’13, to put the Bulldogs up 2–1. The shots marked Jacobson’s sixth and seventh goals of the season and tied him for fourth in the Ivy League in goals.
Tica played an instrumental role in the Yale attack as opposing defenses clamped down in Ivy League play, although his efforts weren’t reflected in the stat line until his two assists to Jacobson.
The Tigers pressured Yale’s defense in the second half by putting six shots on goal. Goalkeeper Bobby Thalman ’13 made six saves, but credited his defense with preventing some of the Tigers’ best players from taking full advantage of their shots. Thalman ended the season with 92 saves, the most of any Ivy League men’s soccer goalkeeper by a margin of 20. Thalman said the team didn’t want to end the season with three losses in a row.
Instead Yale ended with eight victories, four in Ivy League play, a record good enough to put the team within only two points of co-Ivy champions Dartmouth and Brown, who tied 0–0 in double overtime Saturday. Until last week’s overtime loss to Brown, the Bulldogs were in direct competition for the Title, a dramatic improvement over last season when the team appeared out of contention, as it only won one Ivy game.
Head coach Brian Tompkins said the seniors’ leadership was at the heart of the team’s improved play.
“The senior class has a persistence and belief that has rubbed-off on everybody in the squad,” Tompkins said.
Dennen said his class strived to create a strong “culture of winning.”
Thalman and Tica added that the seniors’ work ethic had led to an increase in confidence for the team.
“Our seniors this year set a high standard … all of the guys returning will definitely remember that when we start training during the off season,” Tica said.
Thalman said the team would miss the efforts of its seven seniors, who contributed for almost half of the team’s goals and assists for the year.
“We need to keep our work rate up … [and] maintain the confidence we have right now,” Thalman said. “It was good to get a winning season, but we’re never satisfied until we achieve our ultimate goal of winning the Ivy League and going deep into the NCAA tournament.”
Contact david mcneill at