After four games without a win, including a 3–2 overtime defeat to conference foe Penn (6–7–1, 3–0–1 Ivy) a weekend ago, the men’s soccer team was in dire need of a victory. The Bulldogs got just that Tuesday night with a commanding 2–0 victory over Central Connecticut State on the road.
Yale (4–9–1, 2–1–1) has been a team of intense moments and thrilling drama all season, as 10 of their past 11 games heading into Tuesday night had been separated by one goal or less. Tuesday’s action saw Yale win with relative ease, though CCSU (7–7–1, 4–0–0 NEC) held its own early on.
“These games are always tricky,” said head coach Brian Tompkins. “If you suffer a hangover effect from a difficult loss, it may carry into your next game. But the guys were tremendous today.”
The Bulldogs did not break through until the 42nd minute of action, when forward Scott Armbrust ’14 connected on his first goal of the season. Defender Henry Flugstad-Clarke ’17 set up the go-ahead goal with his first career assist.
Another career first took place in the 56th minute when forward Keith Bond ’16 found the back of the net for the first time with the Elis. This time, it was defender Pablo Espinola ’16 with the assist for the Bulldogs.
“We had a lot of players step up today and have big games, particularly Pablo and Keith,” defender Nick Alers ’14 said. “It’s great to have guys playing with confidence.”
The two Yale goals were more than enough for goalkeeper Blake Brown ’15 and the Bulldog defense. Brown secured his third shutout of the season, all of which have come within the past five games. Remarkably, Brown did not need to make a single save to keep the Blue Devils off of the scoreboard.
Yale outshot CCSU 17–3 in total behind excellent ball movement according to Tompkins, and not a single one of the Blue Devils’ shots was on target. Brown credited his defense for making it an easy night for him.
“Our defense held them to zero shots on goal,” Brown said. “You can’t ask for anything more from your back line.”
Tompkins said both Alers and defender Philip Piper ’16 have been critical to the recent uptick in Yale’s defensive performance. The coach added that the two have been stalwarts at the rear of the Yale squad, and Tompkins said that the defense has been improving throughout the season.
“It takes a while for a team to gel defensively,” Tompkins said. “I think our guys have done a really good job with it. All of our defenders have been outstanding.”
Yale will conclude its season facing off against three Ivy League foes as it clings to a puncher’s chance at the conference title, three points behind first-place Penn. Captain and midfielder Max McKiernan ’14 said he saw Tuesday night as a great step in the right direction.
“We really needed that win, and it’s great to do it in such convincing fashion,” McKiernan said. “We competed on every play tonight and didn’t allow any lapses like we did last Saturday. I think it’s a good springboard for Columbia.”
McKiernan and the rest of the Bulldogs will have a chance to build on their momentum at Columbia (7–4–2, 1–1–2) on Saturday at 4 p.m.