So far this season, the men’s soccer team has faced a number of nationally ranked teams, including Rhode Island, Alabama-Birmingham, and Fairfield. However, the Bulldogs are are just getting started in tackling this season’s daunting schedule.

In the second half of the season, the Bulldogs (5-2-2, 1-1-1 Ivy) will face five teams currently ranked in the top 25, leaving the team little room for a let-up. According to captain Brian Lavin ’02 the team will need to play even better in the coming month than it has thus far.

“We have some difficult tests ahead, games in which hustle and determination alone will not be enough.” Lavin said. After early season victories over URI and UAB, the Bulldogs climbed to No. 24 in the national rankings, a welcome surprise to the team.

“With some of the injuries we had, especially without Jay Alberts ’03, there may have been some doubts about our ability to compete with nationally ranked opponents,” Lavin said. “The URI game proved to ourselves that we can beat quality opponents.”

While Yale has been winning this season, the majority of those contests this season have not been pretty. Wins such as those against Dartmouth and URI, while solid, often seemed more like battles than games, with numerous fouls and yellow cards being issued.

In the upcoming games, the team hopes to improve upon its skill level while maintaining its pre-existing energy.

Coach Brian Tompkins said the team’s composure with the ball and consistency in games are the areas that could use the most improvement.

The Bulldogs are currently in the midst of a 10-day off stretch, a preparation period that will be sorely needed for upcoming matches against Penn, Columbia and Cornell.

“What we’ve tried to do is a couple of different tactical things,” Tompkins said. “We’re using practice as a workshop to see how guys do with some new responsibilities.”

Currently, the Bulldogs are in a four-way tie for third with a win over Dartmouth, a loss against Harvard, and a tie against Cornell. This weekend, the Elis will battle the Penn Quakers, who are 1-1 in league play.

As to how the team has done overall in the season, Tompkins is pleased, but sees room for improvement.

“If we’re going to give ourselves a grade–well, our performance has been satisfactory,” Tompkins said.