After over a week without an intercollegiate contest, it was not surprising that Monday night’s men’s soccer game would be a scrappy contest that relied more on substance than style.
But with second-half goals from Andrew Dealy ’05 and Steve Gibbons ’03, the Yale Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1 Ivy) recovered from a 1-0 deficit to upset No. 16 University of Rhode Island (1-1-1) Monday night at the URI Soccer Complex.
“It may not have been pretty, but it was effective and we’re happy to get a tough road win under our belt,” captain Brian Lavin ’02 said.
Not that there weren’t moments of beauty during the game. Both Yale goals were “great moments of skill,” head coach Brian Tompkins said.
First, Dealy tied the game in the 50th minute when he volleyed in a cross from John Walker ’03.
“Dealy’s goal was as good a goal as you’ll see anywhere,” Tompkins said. “It was a picture-perfect goal. We rehearse those time and time again, but it’s rare that you see them work that well.”
“John Walker sent a great ball across the box and luckily I was just running in at that time and was fortunate enough to score,” Dealy said. “I was just happy to get the first one out of the way to tie the game up. We wanted an early goal so we could try to defend and counterattack.”
The Bulldogs got more than that in the 61st minute, when Gibbons scored the second Yale goal of the half off a pass from Ryan Raybould ’05.
“Gibbons’ goal was also a very, very good one,” Tompkins said. “It came from a throw-in, and then Raybould chipped it to Gibbons. He took it down with his right foot and shot with his left.”
The goal ended up being the game-winner.
“I was pretty excited because I knew we were playing a really good team,” Gibbons said. “We were playing well and we just needed a goal to get up on top to really boost our confidence.”
The game, the first Yale athletic event since the terrorist attack last Tuesday, provided a welcome win for the Elis, who had struggled previously in their season opener against Harvard.
“I thought against Harvard we may have tried to finesse the ball around too much, and we really didn’t create much danger offensively,” Lavin said. “Last night we played a much more direct style offensively, and we got quality finishes from Dealy and Gibbons.”
Yale was able to execute the game strategy they had developed for the game. In facing URI, the Bulldogs were matching up against a very talented offensive team, and they hoped to hold off the offense and counterattack with opportunities of their own.
“We knew that URI is a team that is very skillful and dangerous, and we wanted to make sure that we defended well against them and didn’t get ourselves stretched out,” Tompkins said. “Our goals were to be well-organized defensively and be dangerous when we got the ball.”
Senior forward Nicholas McCreath, an All-American who led the Atlantic-10 last year with 53 points, scored URI’s only goal, a high shot inside the post, at the 16th minute. The score remained 1-0 at the half.
“We struggled a little bit in the first half because we didn’t do a great job of getting pressure on the ball,” Tompkins said. “McCreath is a very clever player and was able to find a bit of space and score a good goal. At halftime I told the team that we must basically keep our defensive organization and attack from there.”
The Bulldogs did just that, as Dealy’s goal came shortly into the second half.
“Basically we wanted to get a goal early but still pick up the intensity defensively,” Dealy said.
Then came Gibbons’ go-ahead goal, which would put the Elis up for good.
“I think that in the second half we settled down a little more and played a lot harder and more physical. We stepped it up without worrying about anything. Even with the lead we were still dangerous, so that was good,” Gibbons said.
After setting the score at 2-1, the Bulldogs were able to stave off the URI offense for nearly 30 minutes.
“Our big guys, Lavin and pretty much our whole back, played a solid game so [Rhode Island] didn’t really have that many chances,” Dealy said.
Eli goaltender Russ Stroud ’04 had a solid game, notching four saves in net.
“They have a number of very quick and technical players up front and in midfield, but we were able to contain them for the most part by staying organized and working really hard on defense,” Lavin said.
This weekend, Yale will play host to the Yale-Fila Classic, featuring Brown, Alabama and Tulsa. Yale and Tulsa will match up at 7:30 p.m. Friday night at the Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium, and the Bulldogs hope to win in front of a home crowd after a tough road victory.
“Now that we have our legs under us a little bit with a big win on the road, we can concentrate on playing our type of game, being able to control the ball, making quick counter attacks, and playing tough defensively,” Gibbons said.
For now, the Bulldogs can be content with such a strong win, regardless of how they achieved it.
“It was a game we won on guts and a couple of great moments of skill more than on finesse and style,” Tompkins said. “It was a day for intestinal fortitude.”
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