The men’s soccer team had a taste of its own medicine on Saturday night, falling to Penn after allowing two late goals. With the 3–2 overtime defeat, the Bulldogs (3–9–1, 2–1–1 Ivy) fell three points behind the Ancient Eight-leading Quakers (6–6–1, 3–0–1 Ivy).
“It’s definitely a setback, but I think we are still in contention [for the League title],” defender Nick Alers ’14 said in a message to the News. “There are a lot of games left to be played.”
Yale missed its chance to pull ahead in the conference standings, but the team’s first loss in the Ivy League has not eliminated the Elis’ chances at an Ivy Championship.
The Bulldogs led twice in the game but surrendered both leads before falling in overtime. With their late game heroics, the Quakers mirrored the Elis’ success in the clutch: Yale has scored late in two Ivy games to claim victory.
Yale first went ahead just before the end of the opening half. Henry Albrecht ’17 scored the first goal of his Yale career on a free kick with 51 second remaining before halftime. Shortly after the intermission, however, the Quakers evened the score on a corner kick in the 53rd minute.
The Elis’ offense responded just over five minutes later. Albrecht played a ball to his classmate Cameron Kirdzik ’17 at the far post, where the forward was able to tap the ball in for a 2–1 lead. Kirdzik now leads the Ivy League in shots with 35, and the goal was the freshman’s fourth this season, putting him into a tie for top scorer on the team with forward Peter Jacobson ’14.
But Penn came back again, scoring in the 87th minute to tie the game. Stephen Baker, who assisted on the Quakers’ previous goal, sent a cross into the box, where defender Johnny Dolezal headed the ball into Yale’s net.
Both teams had chances to win in the final minutes of regulation. Yale goalkeeper Blake Brown ’15 was forced into a save in the 89th minute off of a Penn forward’s shot. The Bulldogs’ chance quickly followed as winger Cody Wilkins ’14 had his effort saved with just four seconds remaining in regulation.
Just three minutes into overtime, the Quakers scored an odd goal to give Penn a crucial win and hand Yale a heartbreaking loss. Brown attempted to clear the ball out of the Bulldog end, but the effort was blocked. The ball fell to a Penn forward, who passed the ball to Baker for an easy conversion into an empty net.
“It’s frustrating to give up the goals the way we did, but we played well for long stretches of the game,” captain Max McKiernan ’14 said. “We’re still playing well enough to win the rest of our games, so we’re just focused on trying to do that the rest of the way.”
Yale fell in large part because of its poor defending on set pieces, a running theme for the Elis this season. The Quakers were able to get back into the match on two set piece opportunities and undo the Bulldogs’ hard work on offense.
For the men’s soccer team, who had snatched victory late in league contests against Harvard and Dartmouth, the overtime loss was a bitter pill to swallow, according to Alers.
“Giving up two set piece goals was pretty painful, especially since we’ve had problems with those all season,” Alers said.
Despite the loss, the Bulldogs are only three points off the league lead and will have the chance to face off against Colombia, Brown and Princeton before the end of the season.
Next up for the squad, however, will be a matchup against Central Connecticut State in the Bulldogs’ final non-Ivy League game this season. The Blue Devils have won four of their last five games and should pose a stiff test for the Elis.
The Yale offense, which has scored only four goals in its last five games and has been shutout six times this year, will need to be clinical on offense, as CCSU has kept seven clean sheets thus far.
Yale takes on Central Connecticut State in New Britain on Tuesday at 7:00 PM.