Despite slipping up against Albany on Tuesday, the men’s soccer team will look to continue its undefeated Ivy League campaign against Dartmouth during Alumni Day — when former players return to campus — on Saturday. The Bulldogs (2–7–0, 1–0 Ivy) will face a stiff test against the Big Green (4–1–4, 0–1 Ivy), who have conceded the second fewest number of goals in the conference this season.
The Bulldogs opened their Ivy League schedule in style last weekend with a thrilling 2–1 comeback against Harvard. The team will look to replicate its success at home, where Yale is 1–2 on the season. The Elis will be facing a stingy Big Green defense on Saturday, but are accustomed to tight games as only two of their contests this season have featured a margin of two goals or greater.
The Bulldog offense has started to click, scoring five goals in their last five matches after being shut out in three of its first four games.
“We need to pass the ball quickly and have good movement off the ball,” captain Max McKiernan ‘14 said. “Dartmouth is going to make us earn any chances we get.”
The match against Dartmouth represents only the second time in six years that Yale has had the opportunity to start 2–0 in the Ivy League. In 2011, their last 2–0 start, the Elis beat Harvard and Dartmouth to begin the season and went on to finish 4–3 in the conference.
Both the senior and freshman classes have been making a large impact for the Bulldogs this season. On the offensive end, four of the top five point-getters, as well as the top five players generating shots this season, come from the classes of 2014 and 2017.
“Our seniors are the custodians of the team’s competitive culture,” head coach Brian Tompkins said. “They continue to be fantastic leaders in every respect, on and off the field. The newcomers are settling in well and have been getting a lot of on-the-job training in challenging circumstances. They are still learning from the veterans and will only get better as the season goes on.”
Forward Peter Jacobson ’14 leads the team in points with nine, and is second in the Ivy League in goals with four. His partner up front, Cameron Kirdzik ’17, leads the team in shots with 24 — good for second in the conference — and has scored twice this season.
Wingers Jenner Fox ’14 and Cody Wilkins ’14 have featured prominently in every game so far this season, each providing an assist. Midfielder Henry Albrecht ’17 has started in all but one game this season and has the second highest shots on goal percentage this season (.833), as he has put five of his six shots on frame.
On the other end of the field, defender Nick Alers ’14 has played every minute of the season. Alers has started every game he has played over his four years at Yale. In the midfield, captain McKiernan has also started every game he has played for the Bulldogs in his career. The veteran showed some offensive spirit in the match against Albany, scoring only the second goal of his career with a sublime 30-yard effort in the first half.
Henry Flugstad-Clarke ’17 has stepped up in his first campaign for the Elis at wingback, playing in all but one game this season. Classmates Tyler Detorie ’16 and Philip Piper ’16 have also featured heavily for the Elis in defense this season.
Ryan Simpson ’17 got the first start of his young Yale career on Tuesday, deputizing for Blake Brown ’15, who looks set to return to the Bulldog net against Dartmouth. Brown has 20 saves this season and has played in both of the Elis’ wins so far.
Dartmouth comes into Reese Stadium on the back of its first defeat of the season, which came last weekend to Ivy opponent Princeton.
The Big Green have a tough defense that has surrendered only eight goals on the season. A big reason for this success is the quality of the team’s goaltenders, James Hickok and Stefan Cleveland, who have the two highest save percentages in the conference. The two have been splitting time this season, featuring in four and five games, respectively. The goaltenders have helped Dartmouth to three shutouts this season.
On the offensive end, the Big Green are led by Alex Adelabu, who was a First Team All-Ivy selection last year. The forward has 10 points, including four goals, on the season and will be Dartmouth’s main scoring threat on Saturday.
The Bulldogs are accustomed to tight contests this season and will be expecting another close game against Dartmouth. The Elis are tied for second-to-last in both goals scored and goals conceded in the Ivy League this year, but can change the outlook of their season with a big home win against the Big Green.
Yale takes on Dartmouth on Alumni Day, Saturday at 7:00 p.m.