The men’s soccer team played its final Ivy game of the year this past weekend, finishing up what has been a dreary season in the Ancient Eight for the Bulldogs.
The Elis (5-8-2, 1-5-1 Ivy) fell to Princeton (10-2-5, 5-1-1) Saturday 2-0 in New Jersey. For the Tigers, the win solidified their bid to the upcoming NCAA tournament and gave them a shot at the Ivy League title.
“I think Princeton wore us down a little in the second half and did a good job of taking control of the game,” head coach Brian Tompkins said. “They played better on the day, and we were overmatched athletically.”
The Bulldogs, who have had a disappointing second half of the season after a promising start, entered the game as heavy underdogs to No. 22 Princeton. But, nonetheless, the Elis played evenly with the Tigers for much of the game. Despite being outshot 11-5 in the first half, Yale shut down the Tiger offense and went into the break with a scoreless tie.
“The first half was kind of a bore on both sides,” said captain Brian Lavin ’02. “There weren’t a lot of opportunities for both sides, and they didn’t really surprise us with anything offensively, but we did a good job.”
Goalie Dave Pozen ’02 put in a good performance for Yale, recording five saves in the opening half and finishing with eight.
Early in the second half, it appeared the game could go either way, with the Bulldogs halting Princeton’s many offensive pushes. But after first half injuries to defenders Brian Roberts ’04 and Jon Skalecki ’05, the Bulldogs found it harder to shut down the Tigers.
“I thought we played well in the first half, but then Princeton’s athleticism became a bit more of a problem for us once we lost those guys,” Tompkins said.
Princeton’s Jeff Hare, finding a way to get open in front of the Yale net, finally broke the tie. He converted a pass from Mike Nugent at 57:44 to put the Tigers up 1-0.
Yale’s offense was unable to sustain Wednesday’s performance, despite several chances by Stu Yingst ’03 and Justin Burton ’04.
“It looked more like we were hitting it and hoping rather than breaking them down with good passing,” Lavin said.
Tompkins noted that his team has had trouble setting up scoring opportunities all season.
“It’s been a problem for us for a while now to create offense just on pure speed and quickness, so it was especially hard against such a well-organized team as theirs,” he said.
Princeton extended its lead at 85:13, as Nugent recorded another assist, this time to Teddy van Beuren, who was standing by the far post and hit Nugent’s ball past Pozen.
The Tigers nearly doubled the Elis’ number of offensive attempts, outshooting them 21-11.
The loss to Princeton gave Yale a final Ivy League record of 1-5-1.
“That’s kind of embarrassing, but it’s something we all have to live with, and for the guys that are coming back that’s the motivation in the offseason to get better,” Lavin said.
Yale’s final game versus Loyola, another nationally ranked team, will be no easier. Although the Elis are not in contention for a postseason bid, Tompkins noted that they still have something to play for.
“We have some seniors who have helped bring this program a long way, and we want to send them off with their last game being successful against a top team,” Tompkins said. “There are also guys on the team who are going to have an opportunity to showcase themselves in terms of positions for next year. Competition will heat up with people returning from injuries and the new recruit class.”