The men’s soccer team did everything needed to win the Yale-Campus Customs Classic this weekend.
Unfortunately, Brown did it better.
Although the Bulldogs (4-0) won both of their games, defeating Vanderbilt 3-1 Friday night before besting Alabama A&M in a 3-2 thriller Sunday, Brown (2-1-1) was named the tournament champion based on goal differential.
Regardless, the two victories, which extended Yale’s winning streak to four games, were just as much of a payoff as the tournament title would have been.
“I think we were just happy to come out of the weekend with two wins,” said forward Jay Alberts ’04, who was named to the All-Tournament team for picking up three assists in the two games. “We take each game as a learning experience, and it’s good to be learning and winning at the same time.”
Yale had not trailed a game all season until Sunday against A&M, when the Bulldogs found themselves on the wrong side of a 2-1 score midway through the second half.
In addition to being down a goal, the Bulldogs had to deal with a shaken-up roster due to injuries. Defender Colin Stirrat ’03, who has started nearly every game since arriving at Yale, could not play due to a shin injury. During the game, defender Ryan Morrissey ’06 and forward Shannon Brooks ’06 both left with ankle injuries, and goalie Geoff Hollington ’04 was cleated in the face and had to leave midway through the second half.
But Yale proved it could overcome adversity by scoring two goals within a minute of each other to earn a decisive victory.
“We dug ourselves a bit of a hole, but we got two goals in a minute and it showed a lot of character to come back like that,” Eli head coach Brian Tompkins said. “Even though we had some difficulties with our tactical organization and some injuries, we showed some character — we played well against a difficult opponent.”
Sixteen minutes into the game, Alberts did what he had done all weekend, beating a defender and placing a precise cross to the front of the goalmouth. This time, it found captain Stu Yingst ’03, who put in a diving header.
“Jay Alberts’ performance speaks for itself,” Tompkins said. “He’s dangerous because he makes other players better, which is the hallmark of an exceptional player.”
Yingst also had a strong weekend, leading the midfield and earning a nod on the All-Tournament team.
Two minutes later, however, A&M’s Abdou Manneh scored his first of two goals off an assist from Eugene Sepuya.
The game remained deadlocked for over thirty minutes before Manneh struck again to give the Elis their first deficit of the season.
But at 68:54, forward Andrew Dealy ’05 began the Eli’s comeback when he headed a cross from Lindsey Williams ’05 toward the goal. Another header by an AAM defender deflected the ball off the crossbar, but Dealy was there to head in his own rebound to tie the game.
Twenty-six seconds later, Brooks beat an A&M defender and passed to Williams, who picked up his eighth point of the weekend when he pushed the ball past goalie James Ssemambo.
Williams was named to the All-Tournament team on the strength of his three goals and two assists over the weekend.
“We didn’t give up and we kept pressing on attack, and we actually got a couple of goals to go in,” Alberts said of the comeback.
Friday night, the Elis played before a raucous crowd of 1,100 people eager to watch the Yale team that had upset the University of North Carolina a week before, getting off to a quck start against the Commodores (1-5). Only 5:24 into the game, a cross by Jay Alberts , which seemed to be headed into the hands of Vanderbilt goaltender Matthew Gotterer, bounced backward and landed right at the feet of Lindsey Williams ’05, who placed it into the goal.
For the rest of the first half, however, something seemed amiss for the Bulldogs. Several attempts at long passes didn’t quite connect and were stopped by Vanderbilt defenders before they could reach their marks.
As a result, Yale was scoreless for the remainder of the first half and gave up a goal to Vanderbilt when they failed to clear the ball from the box. Vanderbilt’s Jeff Baker took advantage of having plenty of time, kicking the ball into the high left corner of the goal.
With no time left on the clock in the first half, Vanderbilt nearly took the lead with a high-kicked ball that goalie Geoff Hollington ’04 punched over the crossbar.
“The first half, we were a little untidy in our play and a little hasty in our decisions about when and where to pass,” Tompkins said.
The Bulldogs presented a reinvigorated front in the second half, with Williams heading in another Alberts cross into the right side of the goal for his second score of the game.
“Jay crossed it again and I saw the ball coming,” Williams said. “I had missed one in the first half so I didn’t let that one slip away.”
Less than five minutes later, Alberts again set up a Yale goal when he sent the ball in front of the net, where Williams and Yingst were set up. Brooks picked up the long rebound of Yingst’s shot and one-timed it past Gotterer to give Yale its final 3-1 finish.
After the defensive gaffe in the first half that led to Vanderbilt’s goal, the Bulldog defense shut down Vanderbilt with the help of Holllington, who recorded 6 saves.
Vanderbilt head coach Tim McClements said that Yale’s organization and depth helped propel them to victory.
“Yale is a very good team across the board with solid players and three or more special players,” he said. “Our guys worked very hard, and we were a bit frustrated because we had a feeling that we had an opportunity to win that just slipped away.”
Eventual champion Brown defeated Vanderbilt 5-1 and Alabama 3-1, giving them a plus-6 goal differential. Meanwhile, the Elis’ 3-1 and 3-2 victories were good for a second-place plus-3.
“Obviously it would have been nice to win our own tournament, but we’ll take the two wins anyway,” Tompkins said.
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”19815″ ]