M. SOCCER | Elis outclass local rivals, end goal drought

The Elis finally brought an end to their goal-free season and enjoyed a winning streak over the weekend against Connecticut rivals Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart.

After four scoreless games, the Bulldogs (2–3–1) secured their first win of the season on Friday against Quinnipiac with a goal from forward Scott Armbrust ’14. On Sunday against Sacred Heart, the Elis pulled yet another shutout victory with goals from Jenner Fox ’14 and Peter Jacobson ’14.

“The result definitely gives us confidence heading into our upcoming matches,” defender Nick Alers ’14 said. “We had been playing well the past several games, so it was great to see that good play [finally] translate into a win.”

After four straight disappointing losses, the Bulldogs were determined to use the match against local rival Quinnipiac to signal Yale’s comeback as a formidable power for the rest of the season. Armbrust said Quinnipiac “came out flying” and was highly motivated to defeat Yale.

Within five minutes after the kickoff, both teams exchanged a threatening shot apiece, both denied by the goalkeepers. Shortly after failing a goal attempt at 14:55, Yale forward Avery Schwartz ’16 created a chance for Armbrust to shoot from just outside the box at 17:41, which left the Bobcat goalie hopeless as the ball nicked the crossbar and angled into the net. It was the team’s long-awaited first goal of the season.

“The goal meant a lot to the team, and of course me as well,” Armbrust said. “We have created many scoring opportunities but failed to execute the final shot, so it was definitely nice to reward our hard work with a goal and a win.”

Scoring the first goal of the season is always tricky for the team, Armbrust said, but the goal will personally allow him to become more confident and, as as a result, more threatening.

In an attempt to reverse the deficit, the Bobcats upped their aggression in the next 10 minutes and recorded four shots — two of them from Quinnipiac’s striker Philip Suprise — that were a bit too close for comfort for the Elis. Fortunately, they had captain Bobby Thalman ’13 to guard their posts. The keeper took out two dangerous on-target shots heading his way.

“I thought we did well to keep Suprise in front of us and to force him into difficult situations,” Alers said.

In the second half, both teams exchanged more powerful blows.

Armbrust said Yale’s offense was good in finding holes in and behind Quinnipiac’s defense. Three minutes into the second half, the Elis missed a chance to put one more up on the scoreboard as Bobcat goalie Angoitia Borja blocked a lethal shot from forward Mitch Wagner ’16. After Wagner’s on-target attempt, the Bobcats retaliated with six consecutive shots to keep Thalman busy minding the goalposts. With the game drawing to a close, the Bulldogs closed out their last scoring attempt with forward Fox’s ’14 taking a shot that did not connect.

“There were some tough moments in the second half, but we stayed organized, and Thalman was able to clean up anything that got past us,” Alers said. “Being the last man back, he can often see things that we can’t, so his communication helps us make sure we are organized.”

He added Thalman did a great job of directing Yale’s line of defense.

Thalman denied the Bobcats’ 10 scoring tries and played a significant role in the team’s victory. The match ended up becoming very offensive-oriented, with 35 shots recorded between the two teams. Following the Bobcats’ early goal deficit, they recorded nine more attempts than the Bulldogs. In the second half alone, Quinnipiac took twice as many shots as the Bulldogs did, with 12 to Yale’s six.

The Elis proved that their victory on Friday was not just good luck when they took down Sacred Heart, 2–0, on Sunday at home.

Head coach Brian Tompkins said tactical discipline and team effort helped the Elis secure the Sacred Heart win, a year after playing to a tie against the Pioneers. From the onset, the team went all out on offense.

Yale recorded three shots in the first half, including an attempt by midfielder Kevin Michalak ’15. As the defensive line effectively tied down the opponents’ attacks, Yale’s offense moved more effectively. Then, at 24:19, forward Peter Jacobson ’14 dribbled past defenders and made a long forward pass to Fox. Fox connected with the pass and put the ball in the top of the goal. Only four minutes after the first goal, Fox again took a shot to shake up the visitors’ net, but it ended up going wide.

Ten seconds before the first half ended, Yale almost gave a goal away when Sacred Heart striker Joshua Mathews found an opening and took a shot that went straight toward the middle of the goal. But Thalman knocked the ball away, and forward Max McKiernan ’14 came in for the clear, shutting down the visitors’ renewed offensive drive.

“It was a bit of scramble, but the team responded,” Thalman said. “We stayed calm and showed maturity, and this will serve us well going down the season.”

Ten minutes into the second half, midfielder Conner Lachenbruch ’15 again initiated the attack with a shot, which was blocked by a Pioneer defender. Then in 58:37, defender Philip Piper ’16 deftly dribbled the ball, and without a hint of hesitation, sent it to Armbrust. Armbrust crossed to Jacobson, who shot past a defender and the Pioneers’ goalkeeper to seal the victory.

One minute before the whistle, Pioneers’ Jamal Vinson maneuvered passed through the Elis’ defense and fired a shot that caught everyone off guard ­— except Thalman. The Yale goalie nestled the ball into his arms and secured the goalpost again.

With only 15 seconds remaining, the visitors could not take any effective measure to turn the game around.

The Elis recorded a total of 11 shots (11–15) and Thalman made five saves. After a tiring weekend, the Elis will take Monday and Tuesday practice off.

The Elis will face Fordham on Friday in the hopes of extending their victory march. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Reese Stadium.

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