After five straight losses, Yale has the opportunity to turn its season around this weekend with a home win against archrival Harvard.
The Bulldogs (1–6–0, 0–0 Ivy) enter the heart of their schedule against the Crimson at Reese Stadium on Saturday night. The contest will be the first Ivy League game for both teams. Harvard (1–5–2, 0–0 Ivy) comes into the contest with a record comparable to the Yale’s and has experienced similar goal-scoring woes throughout the season.
“Records mean very little in Yale-Harvard games,” head coach Brian Tompkins said. “This is always an exciting and hard fought game regardless of what has gone on before it. I expect this game to be no different.”
Yale has been shutout in three of its last five matches and will look to striker Peter Jacobson ’14 to lead the front line against Harvard. The Ann Arbor, Mich. native, who is second in the Ivy League in points with nine, has scored four of the Bulldogs’ seven goals this season. Three of his goals came in the Elis’ only win of the season, a 4–1 drubbing of Sacred Heart on Sept. 10.
But the Bulldogs rank last in the Ivy League in shots and second to last in goals scored and will need other players to chip in if they hope to win.
Three of Jacobson’s classmates, winger Cody Wilkins ’14, midfielder Scott Armbrust ’14 and forward Jenner Fox ’14, have looked lively this season and appear primed to make a impact on Saturday. Wilkins has scored a goal and taken five shots in his first full campaign since his freshman year. As of late, the midfielder has been noted for his speedy play on the flank. Fox was particularly active in the Bulldogs’ last game, when he mustered five shots against Quinnipiac. Armbrust ’14 has been the Elis’ main creative threat this season, registering two assists in the team’s two games in Calif.
“We feel like this is a new chance to prove ourselves,” defender Nick Alers ’14 said. “The Ivy League is wide open this year and we want to prove that we are a contender. We can’t wait to get on the field this Saturday. We’ve have a good week of practice and we’ll be ready to go.”
Two freshmen, forwards Cameron Kirdzik ’17 and Henry Albrecht ’17, have already proved themselves on the Yale attack. Kirdzik ranks second on the team in goals and shots, with two and 15 respectively, while Albrecht has registered a single assist and four shots on the season.
On the other end of the field, Alers has been a mainstay of the Yale defense this season, playing every minute of every game thus far. He is joined in the back by a pair of experienced sophomores, Tyler Detorie ’16 and Phillip Piper ’16, and freshman Henry Flugstad-Clarke ’17.
Goalkeeper Blake Brown ’15 and captain Max McKiernan ’14 have both started each of the Bulldogs’ seven games thus far. They have helped form a stingy Bulldog defense that has kept every game except for two a one-goal contest.
“Our seniors are so important to the persistent and positive mentality of the team in difficult circumstances,” Tompkins said. “They are great leaders and have inspired the play of younger players like Cam Kirdzik, Henry Flugstad-Clarke and Henry Albrecht who have all been significant contributors so far.”
Yale should expect another close game against Harvard. With the exception of one, every game the Crimson has played thus far has been decided by a one-goal margin. Furthermore, in each of the last six Harvard-Yale matchups, no more than one goal has been scored. This includes last year’s game, which ended in a 0–0 double overtime draw despite the teams combining for 34 shots.
Adding to the pressure on the Bulldog offense are Harvard goaltenders Brett Conrad and Evan Mendez. Conrad ranks third in the Ivy League in saves with 31 and has two shutouts to his name. Mendez has only featured in 180 minutes this season, but has 10 saves and has given up only one goal in that time. The pair has split halves in the Crimson’s last two contests.
On offense, no Harvard player has scored more than one goal this season for an attack that is dead last in the Ivy League with only six goals scored. Half of these goals have come from set piece opportunities. This may be worrying for Eli fans, as seven of the 10 goals that Yale has conceded have been off of opponents’ set-piece chances.
“Games against Harvard are different that any other game,” Alers said. “They are always very intense and physically tough. I think it’s important to come into the game calm and composed though. One thing I’ll tell the younger guys is to be ready for that intensity, but to treat the game just like any other and not get overemotional.”
The Bulldogs come into the rivalry matchup with a 0–2 record at Reese Stadium this year, while the Crimson is winless in away contests with a 0–2 record. Harvard leads the all-time series with a record of 51–37–11.
The game will kickoff this Saturday at 7:00 p.m.