The men’s soccer team was unable to extend its three-game undefeated streak against Princeton on Saturday in the final game of five seniors’ Yale careers.
Before this weekend’s game, the Elis (4–8–5, 1–3–3 Ivy) recognized slow starts as a primary weakness. The Bulldogs allowed their opponents to score the first goal in each of their previous three games before roaring back to earn points in the standings with two draws and a win.
Yet the Bulldogs were unable to score first for a fourth straight contest, falling 1–0 to the Tigers (8–6–2, 4–1–2 Ivy) at Reese Stadium in a hard-fought, contentious season finale. With the defeat, the Elis finished sixth in the Ivy League this season.
“It was a good showing for Yale in the sense that [the team] never gave up, even in these past three weeks when for the league-wise we weren’t playing for a spot in the championship,” captain and goalkeeper Bobby Thalman ’13 said. “We still played hard and fought to the last minute so I’m proud of [the team] for that.”
The opening 33 minutes of play lacked much action, as neither team garnered any dangerous scoring opportunities from the outset.
In the 34th minute, however, Princeton midfielder Myles McGinley served a ball into the Yale penalty area from the right side of the end line. Midfielder Matt Sanner, the team’s second-leading goal scorer, charged in from the weak side and, finding himself unmarked, headed the ball to the right corner of the Eli net. Thalman dove to get a hand on the shot, but he did not deflect the ball enough to keep it out of the goal, and the Tigers took a 1–0 lead.
The first half expired without the Bulldogs recording a single shot.
“We weren’t very sharp. Certainly in the first half I thought we were a little bit slow moving the ball,” head coach Brian Tompkins said. “We showed a bit more energy and a bit more determination in the second half.”
The Elis came out of halftime with more intensity, creating two significant scoring chances within the period’s first 10 minutes. In the 48th minute, forward Jenner Fox ’14 served a cross into the Tiger penalty area to the feet of defenseman Milan Tica ’13, who received the ball with Princeton goalkeeper Seth MacMillan out of position. But Tica could not effectively corral the pass and managed only a weak shot that MacMillan handled easily.
Forward Keith Bond ’16 crossed a nearly identical ball to Fox only six minutes later, but Fox was also unable to handle the pass well enough to level a dangerous shot.
The best opportunity for the Bulldogs occurred in the final minutes of the match. Forward Avery Schwartz ’16 broke though the Tiger defense in the 86th minute and had an open path to the goal before appearing to be tripped by a Princeton defender; the referee did not signal for a penalty, and play continued. The primary official took criticism from coaches and players from both sides throughout the evening and seemed to lose control of the game’s last 10 minutes as players nearly came to blows on multiple occasions.
“It’s not appropriate to comment about the referee,” Tompkins said. “Even though he sucked.”
With the conclusion of the season, the squad said goodbye to five seniors: Thalman, Tica, defender Andy Hackbarth ’13, midfielder Frank Shaw ’13 and midfielder Tony Wilbar ’13. The players were honored for their contributions to the program before the game.
“We’ll look back on this season and we’ll remember the senior leadership,” defender Nick Alers ’14 said. “The work we put in this year is definitely going to go a long way to helping us next year.”
Cornell clinched the Ivy League title on Saturday with a 1–0 victory at Columbia. The Big Red finished the season with a conference-leading 18 points in the standings.