Despite facing one opponent they had won against last year, and outshooting another, the Bulldogs failed to get on the scoreboard this weekend.
As if on a mission to avenge last season’s loss, Central Connecticut State University played aggressively from the start, taking three shots that were way too close for comfort for the Bulldogs in the first ten minutes of the first half alone. Although captain and goalkeeper Bobby Thalman ’13 made eight spectacular saves, it was not enough to help the Elis avoid a 2–0 defeat against the Blue Devils on Friday.
“It was definitely a tough start to the season, especially since I know that our team is capable of playing much better soccer,” defender Nick Alers ’14 said.
The Bulldogs won 2–0 when the two teams last met, but the exact same numbers went in favor of the Blue Devils this time around.
Midfielder Max McKiernan ’14 said the team is staying positive and using the loss as a learning experience for future matches.
“The first game was a rough start for us, but it’s good to get the first game out of the way and to know exactly where we need to improve moving forward,” he said.
Three of the Bulldogs’ key players are also out with injuries, but McKiernan said they should be back in the game soon.
Alers added that CCSU had several impressive players and that the Blue Devils played with more vigor than they did last year.
Just five minutes into the game, the Devils began their barrage of attacks, averaging three shots at Yale’s goalposts every three minutes. At 16:21, CCSU’s Eddy Bogle took a bold shot that found its way into the Bulldogs’ net. During the next 20 minutes, the Elis tried hard to bounce back but ended up giving away unnecessary opportunities to the Devils.
Seven minutes before the end of the first half, CCSU’s Reece Wilson, who assisted the first goal, lashed an irrefutably sure shot under normal circumstances, but Thalman pointedly denied the attempt.
“They had a lot of fans at the game, and it seemed as if they fed off that energy to really press us,” Alers said.
After going through three substitutes, the Bulldogs once again regrouped to reverse the scoreboard, but their efforts proved futile. The Devils continued their relentless assault, firing two more threatening shots during the next seven minutes of the second half. At 53:51, CCSU’s Jesse Menzies took a shot that went straight past Thalman to make it 2–0 for the Devils. Twenty minutes later, defender Milan Tica ’13 gave a glimpse of hope for Yale as he powered a shot toward CCSU’s net, only to be palmed to safety by Devils’ goalkeeper.
Despite a successful pre-season, the Elis are still getting in the swing of the competitive season and making adjustments, Alers said.
“We made a couple of mistakes defensively, but it is nothing that we cannot fix as we look forward to our next game,” Alers added.
Thalman made more saves than CCSU’s Anthony Occhialini (8–1), and the Elis committed fewer fouls, seven to CCSU’s eight. But the opponents outdid the Bulldogs in shots (19–3) and controlled possession for most of the match.
“I think it is important to have perspective and realize that it was the first game of a long season,” Alers said. “We have plenty of time to make things right.”
Monday, the Elis again failed to grab their first win of the season and fell to Albany 2–0 at home. Thalman said the team improved in the second half, maintaining possesion for longer and becoming more aggressive on offense to open up scoring opportunities. The Bulldogs took 17 shots to Albany’s 15, but were unable to complete these plays with goals.
Sixteen minutes after the kickoff, four different Bulldogs took shots to shake up the visitors and dictate the flow of the game.
In 18:34, Thalman dived left and captured the ball just seven feet outside of the net off a shot by Albany’s Pomare Te Anau. The Bulldogs did not soften up and tried everything to consolidate a victory by recording five more powerful shots for the next 20 minutes, but all failed to translate into goals.
Three minutes before the first half came to a close, Great Dane Brandon Wilson leveled the score and turned the tide of the match by manoevering past Thalman. The visitors continued their aggressive assault in the second half. After taking six more threatening shots, the seventh one did the trick of finding its way into the Bulldogs’ net at 89:57, just three seconds before the whistle to secure Yale’s loss.
The Elis will seek their first win next weekend instead, against Colgate on Friday at Reese Stadium at 7 p.m.