Playing in front of a full house, the men’s soccer team kept up with in-state rival UConn in every area except for one. Unfortunately, it was in the only stat that matters — goals scored.
Unable to finish their opportunities in front of the goal, the Bulldogs (5-4-2, 1-2-1 Ivy) were blanked by the University of Connecticut, 2-0, Wednesday at the Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium.
“They’re a very good team, and if you get chances you need to finish,” forward Justin Burton ’04 said. “They only give up so many.”
Burton was among several players, including Andrew Dealy ’05, Stu Yingst ’03, and Brian Roberts ’04, who put pressure on the Husky goal throughout the game.
According to head coach Brian Tompkins, the shutout resulted from two factors.
“We were a little bit unlucky and a little careless,” Tompkins said.
Tompkins said that in the past, Yale has played UConn with defense in mind, and he wanted to change that strategy to “make a statement.”
Husky head coach Ray Reid praised Tompkins’ work.
“Brian’s done a great job,” Reid said. “They really pressured us this year. They’re a good team, just young.”
The game opened in a promising fashion for the Bulldogs. Allen Cerasani ’04, who scored the Bulldog’s only goal against the University of Pennsylvania Saturday, found himself in good position just five minutes into the game.
He was taken down in front of the goal, however, and it was the Huskies who struck first when Andrew McLeod headed in an Anthony Curtis corner kick in the 10th minute of play.
Shortly after that goal, a 10-minute delay due to a light failure quieted the largest crowd of the season. The official attendance for Wednesday’s game was 1,394, with a large UConn contingent supporting the Huskies.
When play resumed, the rest of the first half was marked by several Yale near-misses, with Yingst and Dealy creating opportunities for themselves midway into the half.
“Tactically, we didn’t want a track meet, running back and forth,” Tompkins said. “We wanted to create danger and make them defend more.”
In addition to pressuring UConn offensively, Yale played strong defense after the first goal. Defenders Colin Stirrat ’03 and Luke Rona ’04 stopped a slew of Husky breaks and kept the Elis in the game.
With about 30 seconds to go before the half, Roberts appeared to score, but UConn goalie Bryheem Hancock covered the ball on the goal line, and the officials ruled that the ball did not cross it.
The second half featured more of the same.
Several crosses from Ryan Raybould ’05 nearly set up what would have been the tying goal for Yale, but the Bulldogs remained scoreless. At the other end, the Elis’ superb defense, led by captain Brian Lavin ’02, and several saves by goalie Russ Stroud ’04 kept the score 1-0.
The one-goal deficit widened in the 73rd minute, however, when Mansour Ndiaye took advantage of a loose ball in front of the net, lifting it over Stroud’s head for a 2-0 lead.
Regardless of their loss, the Elis were satisfied with their play against such a strong opponent.
“I thought it was a good game,” Lavin said. “We did a lot of the things we wanted to do.”
As the Bulldogs head into their fifth Ivy League contest Saturday at Columbia University, they should benefit from Wednesday’s game, Burton said.
“We played great against a quality team, so we should take the best from the game and carry it into Saturday,” he said.
Tompkins said that he is happy with the team’s effort and that it should help morale.
“A game like this may not be good for our record, but it’s good for our confidence,” he said.