On the strength of two goals by forward Justin Burton ’04, the men’s soccer team stunned defending national champion University of North Carolina 2-1 Friday afternoon at Brown. The Bulldogs then downed Michigan Sunday to claim the championship in the season opening adidas/Brown Classic.
Two years ago, in his freshman season, Burton earned himself a spot on the All-Tournament team despite being scoreless during the two games in Providence. But this year, Burton was anything but scoreless, notching his two goals in a 15-minute frame to key the Eli upsets and once again snagging a spot on the All-Tournament roster.
“It’s always a good feeling when you score, but it was even better scoring against the defending national champs in our first game of the year,” said Burton, adding that the win was all the more impressive because UNC was playing their fifth game of the season.
One of the keys to Yale’s success was the fact that a number of Bulldogs contributed, especially on offense. Five different Yale players recorded points in the two games, which made it difficult for the opposing defenses.
“We spread it out on offense and they couldn’t really key in on any one guy,” said forward Shannon Brooks ’06, who recorded his first collegiate goal against Michigan. “Everybody did a good job.”
Four Yale players were selected to the All-Tournament team, with both the Offensive and Defensive MVP awards going to Bulldogs.
Forward Jay Alberts ’04 was named Offensive MVP for the tournament on the strength of his agile playmaking that helped set up both of Burton’s goals against UNC.
Defensively, Brian Roberts ’04 earned himself the Defensive MVP by directing a strong Yale backfield that allowed only two goals. Defender Steve Gibbons ’03 also joined Burton, Alberts, and Roberts on the team.
Friday afternoon against UNC, Yale was able to strike early and build a lead that the Tar Heels would not be able to surmount.
Burton’s first goal came at 15:28 after Andrew Dealy ’05 won the ball from a UNC defender. Dealy played the ball to Alberts, who crossed the ball to Burton.
“I took a touch and I saw the defender coming over so I wanted to get the shot off quick,” Burton said.
The ball went low past Tar Heel goaltender Ford Williams near the far post.
Less than fifteen minutes later, Burton struck again on a similar play, with Alberts feeding the ball up to the left corner for him. Beating the defender on a baseline one-on-one, Burton knocked the ball in high for the 2-0 lead.
With less than five minutes remaining, the Tar Heels made the game interesting when Jonathan Davis scored to cut the Eli lead in half, but strong defensive work and a great game by goalie Geoff Hollington ’04 sealed Yale’s victory.
“We had good communication between Geoff and the rest of the defense,” Roberts said.
For the Elis, the season-opening win represented a step in the right direction for the talented roster.
“Beating UNC was a good step for our program, especially after having a disappointing season last year,” Burton said. Ê”We’ve set some high team goals, and we’re definitely off to a good start.”
That good start only got better for Yale on Sunday, when they took on Michigan in the second game of the adidas/Brown Classic.
With the Wolverines recovering from a 110-minute overtime draw against Brown, Yale struck first when Brooks headed in an indirect kick from midfielder Ryan Raybould ’05 to score the first goal of his Yale career at 21:07.
“Raybould took the kick from the sideline and just served a perfect ball,” Brooks said. “I just ran onto it and headed it down and left into the net.”
With the first half winding down, Michigan’s Mychal Turpin scored his sixth goal of the season when he received the ball 20 yards from the goal and slammed it past Hollington to tie the game at 1-1
With only 3:32 remaining in regulation, forward Lindsey Williams ’05 was tripped inside the box, resulting in a Yale penalty kick. Midfielder Andrew Dealy ’05, who led the Bulldogs in scoring last season, was selected to take the kick and converted with a low blast to the left of Wolverine goalie Peter Dzubay.
Once again, Yale’s defense was able to keep the opposing offense at bay to finish out the game with a 2-1 victory and the tournament title.
“We expected them both to be very tough games, being that UNC was the national champion and Michigan is extremely athletic,” Roberts said. “Both games were very hard, and we got what we expected.”
Interestingly enough, host Brown, who tied for first place in the Ivy League last year, had a subpar tournament, tying Michigan and falling 5-0 to UNC.
The tournament was a good warm-up for this weekend’s Yale-Campus Customs Classic, which was won by Yale last season. Hopefully, for players who had breakout weekends, like Burton and Brooks, the tournament is a sign of things to come.
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