With twenty minutes remaining, it seemed like the Bulldogs–despite choppy and erratic play–were going to come home with a shutout Ivy-League victory.
But the men’s soccer team (5-3-2, 1-2-1 Ivy) squandered their first-half lead in the final 20 minutes, falling 2-1 to Penn (6-3-1, 2-1-0 Ivy) in Philadelphia on Saturday.
“We needed to just commit ourselves to defending our lead and come home with an ugly win, but we lost focus defensively and they were able to capitalize,” captain Brian Lavin ’02 said.
The loss was frustrating for the Bulldogs, who felt that they should have been victorious over their Ivy League opponents.
“We got what we deserved in this game,” captain Brian Lavin ’02 said. “We let an inferior opponent hang around and we did not take care of business defensively when we needed to.”
The Elis struck first midway through the first half when Justin Burton ’04 served the ball across to Allen Cerasani ‘0?, who headed the ball in for the early lead.
Despite leading Penn at this point, however, the Bulldogs were showing signs that they were not playing their best game.
“Although we scored a very good goal and were doing some good things, we were just a little bit off our rhythym and we weren’t technically as sharp as we needed to be,” coach Brian Tompkins said.
Even so, the game seemed to be turning into a Yale shutout, and with twenty minutes remaining in the game, Penn remained scoreless.
The shutout quickly evaporated, however, when Quaker John Salvucci broke out of the backfield and flipped the ball past Yale goalie Russ Stroud ’04 to tie the game with 18 minutes remaining.
Although they had time to respond to the goal, the Bulldogs failed to mount a precise counterattack, according to Tompkins.
“In the second half, if we had just sharpened up technically we could have found another goal, but it just wasn’t our day,” he said.
The Quakers, inspired by Salvucci’s goal, took advantage of an Eli turnover in the midfield and quickly reversed play in a sequence that ended with Penn’s Alex Maasry’s goal off an pass by Louis Lazar. The tally put Penn ahead, 2-1, with just over two minutes remaining, and the game would end by that score.
“It was too late to get back into it at that point,” Tompkins said. “We didn’t do a very good job of maintaining a lead, and I think our inexperience showed a little bit.”
Lavin attributed the team’s loss to its lack of concentration.
“We came out really flat, the quality of our passing was poor and we weren’t able to generate any type of rhythm in our play,” he said.
The crucial Ivy League loss dropped the Eli’s league record to 1-2-1, and although the league continues to be up for grabs, Yale cannot afford to lose to upcoming Ivy opponents Columbia, Brown, and Princeton.
Before they return to league play, however, the Bulldogs will host the defending NCAA champion University of Connecticut at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
After two narrow defeats, both of which seemed to be characterized by uneven play, the Bulldogs are looking to try some new positioning and formations.
“We may move some guys around and try some people in new spots so we can improve our rhythm and flow,” Tompkins said.