The much-anticipated return of men’s soccer player Jay Alberts ’04 got off to a quick start Sunday. Alberts notched a quick goal against Division-III Wesleyan within the first 10 minutes of play to lead the Bulldogs to a 1-0 victory in a preseason scrimmage at the Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium.
“The system we are playing in this year is much more offensive-minded and allows us to play to the strengths of our team,” Alberts said. “I thought the game went pretty well over all.”
While the game is not included in Yale’s record and was scheduled for extra practice, the experience was valuable to the team, and especially to freshmen, who used the contest as a warmup for upcoming collegiate competition.
“There were some freshmen who played pretty well, but in general it was just good to get the experience under their belts,” said starting right back Colin Stirrat ’03, who is among a host of returning starters who hope to provide veteran leadership and play this season.
Alberts, who missed all of last season with mononucleosis, picked up right where he left off early in the first half, running quickly up the right side to receive a cross from the left. Alberts evaded his defender before tapping the ball past the Wesleyan goaltender.
“We moved the ball fairly well and were able to get down the lines and put some dangerous balls across the box,” said captain Stu Yingst ’03, who is a three-time All-Ivy selection in midfield.
Andrew Dealy ’05, who led the team in scoring last year with five goals and two assists, was responsible for setting up the goal.
“I thought it went pretty well considering that it was our first official scrimmage. We had a lot of guys moving in and out, but it was as good as we could have expected, although we had trouble finishing some plays,” Dealy said.
Following Alberts’ goal, the scrimmage was scoreless, with neither side able to capitalize on any scoring opportunities. But the contest provided an opportunity for head coach Brian Tompkins to experiment with combinations and see a variety of newer players in situational play.
“As the game wore on we made a lot of changes and experimented with different combinations of players,” Tompkins said. “This obviously affected the flow of the game and the play wasn’t quite as dynamic.”
Nevertheless, the Bulldogs controlled the game throughout, and the goaltender trio of Geoff Hollington ’04, Matt Aleksinas ’06, and Russ Stroud ’04 did not see much work during the course of play, partly due to solid backfield play by such returning players as Brian Roberts ’04.
“We really dominated [Wesleyan], so we had a lot of possession,” said forward Allen Cerasani ’04. “We had a number of chances we didn’t finish. There were so many different lineups that it was tough, but that’s what a scrimmage is for, so it went pretty well.”
Yale’s regular season begins next weekend, when the Elis travel to Brown University for the annual Brown-Adidas Classic. The team will face North Carolina and Michigan universities before returning home the following weekend for the Yale Classic.
The Elis have their work cut out for them this week in practice, as UNC is the reigning national champion.
“We have a long week of practice to get ready for them,” Dealy said. “I think we need to work on increasing our speed of play — Wesleyan put together a good effort, but there’s a huge difference between a D-III team and a national champion.”