As the first month of classes begins to wind down and fall weather grips campus, many students can only dream of warm California air. But for some Yalies, that dream has become a reality.
The men’s soccer team boarded a plane and headed to California to play a slate of two games this weekend. Yale (1–3, 0–0 Ivy) will take on UC Santa Barbara (3–2, 0–0 Big West) today before facing Cal Poly (4–2, Big West 0–0) on Sunday.
“I think the team is hoping to gain two important things from the trip,” defender Nick Alers ’14 said in an email. “First, we are playing against two very good teams that will really test our soccer ability and mental toughness. Playing tough games now will prepare us for tough games later during the Ivy season. Second, the trip will give us a great chance to continue to build our team chemistry.”
The Elis face teams with impressive pedigrees: Both opponents received votes in the NCAA Division I men’s soccer rankings this past week, though neither is ranked, and UC Santa Barbara won the national championship in 2006.
“Honestly, I don’t know what to expect because we’ve never played out here, but SB and Cal Poly are notoriously tough opponents,” forward Jenner Fox ’14 said in an email. “We’re just hoping to continue the success that Ivy League teams have had out here, and grow as a team.”
Even in this young season, both California squads have already faced an abundance of nationally ranked talent. UC Santa Barbara has squared off against No. 11 UCLA and No. 16 Northwestern, while Cal Poly has also taken on UCLA.
“We are expecting our opposition to be very technical, physical and have the ability to move the ball quickly,” midfielder Scott Armbrust ’14 said in an email. “This week we spent some time working on our defensive shape in hopes of being able to turn a lot of balls over.“
Last season, the Elis struggled to put the ball in the back of the net, averaging an Ivy League low of 0.53 goals per game. Early this season, scoring woes continue to haunt the Bulldogs. Other than a 4–1 win against Sacred Heart on Sept. 19 — which featured a hat trick from Peter Jacobson ’14 — the Elis have not managed to score in their other three games. That will need to change if the team hopes to improve on its sixth-place Ancient Eight finish last year.
“We need to work on both creating more chances and finishing the ones that we are able to create,” Alers said. “To do that, we need to improve the service that we are giving our attacking players and make quicker and more purposeful decisions.”
Alers added that the team has been working on achieving those goals in practice.
The game at UC Santa Barbara will kick off at 10 p.m. on Friday, while the Bulldogs will face Cal Poly at 4 p.m. on Sunday