With an offensive onslaught and a defensive whitewash, the men’s soccer team made it look easy Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs (5-0) cruised to a 4-0 victory at Hartford (2-5) on the strength of two goals by midfielder Andrew Dealy ’05 and a shutout from goaltender Geoff Hollington ’05.
“We played quickly and intelligently to get a convincing win,” head coach Brian Tompkins said.
On paper, the game seemed to have the potential to be a good matchup. Although the Hawks had a losing record, they were coming off a loss to Harvard in which they had been leading 3-0 going into the half. The Cantabs responded with four quick goals, however, eventually defeating Hartford, 6-4. Sophomore Alon Lubezky recorded a hat trick and an assist in the game, and was named the America East Player of the Week for his efforts.
But once the opening whistle blew, it was clear that Yale had the edge, with most of the game being played in front of Hartford’s goal. What set the Elis apart from the Hawks was their ability to effectively control and play through every possession. Throughout the game, Yale players continually connected with precise, crisp passes that helped push the play up the field quickly and capitalized on the team’s collective speed.
“We moved the ball really well, and played it right to people’s feet,” said midfielder Ryan Raybould ’05, who opened up the scoring for the Bulldogs. “We had good possessions and never panicked — the forwards played back to midfield, which was good.”
Raybould’s goal came 21 minutes into the game when he took a direct free kick and bent the ball over the Hartford defensive wall and past goaltender Ryan Carr. It was the midfielder’s first goal of the season.
At 33:50, the Elis extended their lead when Raybould set up a play by crossing the ball from the left side. Forward Jay Alberts ’04 headed the ball to Yale’s leading scorer, Lindsey Williams ’05. Williams’ header bounced and came up and out of the goaltender’s reach for the 2-0 lead.
The Alberts-Williams tandem has been in sync lately, with Alberts hitting Williams for two goals against Vanderbilt last Friday. Against Hartford, Alberts’ two assists bring his career total to 19, just five short of Yale’s all-time career assists record.
The remainder of the first half was uneventful, with neither team scoring and Yale possessing the ball for the majority of the time. With 10 seconds left in the half, Hartford had a flurry of opportunities near Yale’s goalmouth, but Hollington punched the ball over the crossbar to maintain his shutout. The play was one of Hollington’s two recorded saves.
Although the Hartford field was smaller than Yale’s home site, the lack of space didn’t seem to affect the Bulldogs, who used the dimensions to their advantage and were able to rapidly transfer the play from defense to offense.
“There was a lot of space in midfield,” Raybould said. “Things were a lot more open than I thought they would be.”
Tompkins noted that his players were to credit for creating the open space.
“As we scored goals, they had to commit to attacking, which left a lot of space on the field,” he said. “We utilized it very well.”
Three minutes into the second half, Dealy scored the first of his two goals when he volleyed in another pass from Alberts, who had chipped the ball over a Hartford defender.
Dealy struck again at 79:09, receiving a perfect pass from forward Allen Cerasani ’04 near the 18-yard line and lofting the ball so that it landed just under the crossbar.
As Yale’s lead increased, a number of players were rotated in and out so that everyone could earn playing time.
“Everyone came in and did well,” Raybould said. “It’s only going to help us down the road when we run into tough competition in our Ivy schedule.”
The Bulldogs have a week off before they face Hofstra next Wednesday night on the road.