MEN’S SOCCER: Elis thrill again

This weekend, the men's soccer team upheld their perfect Ivy record.
This weekend, the men's soccer team upheld their perfect Ivy record. Photo by Marisa Lowe.

Needing another dose of late-game heroics following last weekend’s comeback victory over Harvard, the men’s soccer team scored in double overtime on Saturday night to beat Dartmouth and remain undefeated in the Ivy League. Freshman forward Cameron Kirdzik ’17 scored for Yale (3–7–0, 2–0 Ivy) in the 107th minute of play to defeat the Big Green (4–2–4, 0–2 Ivy), handing them their second straight loss.

“We’ve been confident all year about the Ivy League season,” captain Max McKiernan ’14 said. “Our record doesn’t reflect the quality of the product that we put out on the field, so it’s been awesome to finally put it all together when it matters most. We definitely feel confident moving forward after getting these first two wins, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

The Elis attacked right from the first whistle and dominated most of the first half, forcing Dartmouth goalkeeper James Hickok to make three stops on eight shots during the opening period. Kirdzik recorded three shots, while Peter Jacobson ’14 and Henos Musie ’16 also saw their efforts saved. The Big Green could only muster one shot in the first half, and neither team found a breakthrough before the halftime whistle blew.

The second half started in a much different fashion as Dartmouth finally broke out of its shell and forced Yale goalkeeper Blake Brown ’15 into two smart saves within the first five minutes. Yet the Bulldogs began to assert their dominance shortly afterwards, holding Dartmouth to just two more shots. The Elis also drew a further nine fouls, while Dartmouth was whistled for two yellow cards.

Big Green keeper Hickok, who has two shutouts on the season, matched Brown throughout regulation, denying three Elis in a 10-minute stretch. In the last 20 minutes of the game, the Bulldogs peppered the Dartmouth net with nine shots. Forward Henry Albrecht ’17 and Kirdzik each had two shots. Kirdzik also set up a beautiful opportunity for fellow striker Avery Schwartz ’16 in the 82nd minute. The freshman played a long ball to the feet of Schwartz, who hammered a shot towards the net that Hickok was able to corral.

Both Dartmouth and Yale have a tendency to play close games, as each has featured in at least seven contests decided by one or fewer goals. Still, no one at Reese Stadium could have predicted this game would become such a defensive struggle. The Bulldogs finished with 18 shots in regulation, forcing Hickok into seven saves, while the Big Green managed six shots of which Brown saved two.

The Elis had previously featured in only one overtime game this season, a 3–2 loss to Cal Poly on Sept. 22, while their opponents had played in six extra-time games.

The first 10-minute sudden-death period started with a chance for Jacobson, who just missed a curling effort from 20 yards out. Dartmouth would counter with its best chance of the game two minutes later. In the 95th minute of play, a long cross was put into the Bulldogs’ box and redirected by an attacker towards the Yale net. But Brown was able to quite brilliantly dive to his left and force the ball out for a corner kick that was cleared shortly after.

The period would end scoreless, leading to a second overtime. With just over four minutes left, Yale found the breakthrough it had been searching for all game. After a Dartmouth foul, Musie sent a dangerous ball into the box that Hickok punched out. The ball fell right to the feel of Albrecht, however, who hit a shot that Kirdzik redirected inside the post to give the Bulldogs the victory. The Alumni-Day crowd erupted and for the second straight weekend the fans stormed Reese field in celebration.

“It was great to see us dominate possession, connect passes and create danger,” defender Nick Alers ’14 said. “It was awesome to get our first shutout. I was happy for Blake because he played a great game. We still need to be a little sharper in the final third, but I think we played our best soccer of the season so far on Saturday.”

Brown finished with three saves in a solid defensive performance. On the offensive end the Elis totaled 23 shots, as six players had two or more efforts. Kirdzik, now atop the Ivy League statistics in shots, tallied the winning goal — his third goal of the season — on his seventh effort of the game.

The Elis stand at 2–0 in the Ivy League and have a full week of rest before their next contest. Five of Yale’s remaining seven games are against conference opponents.

“We are confident that our method of play will lead to the results we’re looking for,” Schwartz said. “We’re not worried about what has happened before and we are addressing issues as the season has progressed.”

The Bulldogs take on Cornell at Reese Stadium this Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

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