For the men’s soccer team, Wednesday’s game may not have been a pleasing end to the season.
But it was a fitting one.
Yale (6-9-2) fell to No. 10 Loyola (16-1-2) in a 1-0 game Wednesday. There were no surprises in the game, which was reminiscent of most of the Bulldogs’ losses this season in which they simply could not score, despite numerous chances.
After a Loyola throw-in, Steven Coleman tallied the lone goal of the game for the Greyhounds, heading a cross from Peter Kebis past Yale goaltender David Pozen ’02. The goal came 11 minutes into the second half, and the Bulldogs were unable to find a way to take back the game.
“They found a way to get one and punish our sins, which is a credit to them,” head coach Brian Tompkins said. “I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I wish there was some kind of magic that could help us get the ball in the net.”
Loyola, unbeaten in its last 18 games, played without three starters and did not seem to be dominating the game, especially in the first half, where the Bulldogs saw a host of scoring opportunities. Andrew Dealy ’05, Stu Yingst ’03, and Steve Gibbons ’03 all possessed the ball well inside Loyola’s box, but the Elis suffered from the same old problem — an inability to score.
“I was pleased with the first half; we gave them some problems and controlled the ball, and had some good chances to score,” Tompkins said. “We went into the second half feeling like we could win.”
But the Bulldogs could not, despite outshooting Loyola 10-3 in the first half and 16-5 on the game.
After opening their season 5-1-2 with wins over nationally ranked teams the University of Rhode Island and the University of Alabama-Birmingham, the Bulldogs floundered in the second half of their schedule, amassing a dismal record of 1-8 and losing five games by one goal. Tompkins noted that injuries contributed to this downturn.
“I think we lost some of our offensive edge when Lindsey Williams [’05] got injured in the Dartmouth game,” Tompkins said. “His speed was crucial for us, and without him our offense became more one-dimensional.”
In addition, the two goalies on Yale’s roster at the end of the season were completely different from those who began it. Struck by injuries at the position, the Bulldogs turned to Pozen, who came back after a two-year absence to play well for Yale.
“It was a wonderful experience, and I feel really lucky to have helped the team, but it’s unfortunate that we didn’t do better,” Pozen said. “It was an amazing way to end and a total surprise — but I was happy to reconnect with the guys on the team.”
The game was the last of the season for the team and ended the collegiate careers of seniors Pozen, forward Brian Larkin and defender Brian Lavin, the team’s captain.
“With Larkin, it was all about courage and being a consummate team guy, Tompkins said. “His ankle has just been shredded all season, but he’s continued to play hard.”
Larkin’s overtime header against UAB earlier in the season won the game and the Yale-Fila Classic for the Bulldogs. In Wednesday’s game, he nearly had an assist in the opening minutes when he made a great pass to Dealy in front of the Loyola net.
“Lavin is just the stud of the team,” Pozen said. “It was a little eerie playing behind him because he’s just so calm the entire game.”
Tompkins added that the departure of his two-time All-Ivy captain will leave a large void on the team.
“In my mind, Lavin clearly is the best defender in the league, if not the region,” he said.