Off to its best start since 1991, the men’s soccer team did everything it needed to do to continue its hot streak Wednesday night against Hofstra — except score.
Despite outshooting No. 24 Hofstra (6-1-1) by a 2-to-1 margin, the No. 19 Bulldogs (5-1) fell to the Pride 1-0 on Long Island after giving up a late goal that broke the scoreless tie in a game played in unseasonably hot and humid weather.
“Overall it was not a terrible performance,” said captain Stu Yingst ’03. “We played well enough to win and had the better of the chances, but had some trouble finishing.”
For most of the game, both teams were unable to convert any of their opportunities. But after a Yale defensive mishap in the 70th minute, Hofstra forward Jochen Strobel gained control of the ball and dribbled past an Eli defender before ripping a shot from 15 yards that sailed over goaltender Geoff Hollington ’05 and into the net.
For the remaining 19 minutes, Yale was unable to tie the game, but not for lack of trying. The Bulldogs, as they did throughout the game, peppered Pride goalie Mattias Gumbrecht with shots. But the freshman, along with Hofstra defenders, stopped the ball just on the goal line a number of times.
Midfielder Andrew Dealy ’05, who was named to last week’s Ivy League Honor Roll for his two-goal game against Hartford, had a team-leading eight shots against Hofstra. Despite his numerous chances, Dealy’s fortunes in front of the net mirrored those of his teammates as he fell victim to a number of bad breaks, including a missed breakaway opportunity.
“They cleared at least five balls that beat their goalie off of the line and you have to give them credit for battling,” Dealy said.
Given Gumbrecht’s performance in the net, head coach Brian Tompkins was not upset with his team’s performance.
“It wasn’t a bad performance by us, especially on the road and in the very hot weather,” Tompkins said. “[Gumbrecht] made the difference, he made a number of key saves.”
One of his biggest came with six minutes remaining in the game, when Yingst sprinted in from the right side to receive a pass and get off a good shot that Gumbrecht deflected with a sliding save.
Earlier, it looked like Yale had caught a break when Strobel was given a red card and ejected from the game for earning two yellow cards, forcing the Pride to play a man down.
But a minute later, Eli midfielder Louis Pacilio ’06 was ejected after he fouled Gumbrecht while attempting to rush the ball.
“To be honest, I was a little surprised at the decision to give Pacilio a red because what he did certainly didn’t warrant that,” Tompkins said. “There was no intent to injure.”
Regardless, the card leveled the playing field and left 10 men on each side for the remainder of the contest.
In the end, Hofstra came out with the victory, its first against a ranked opponent since 1997.
“We were definitely lacking our normal spunk and chippiness, but we should have been able to come up with a win,” Yingst said.
Tompkins noted that the heat and bumpy field, coupled with the fact that the game was on the road, created unfavorable conditions for the Bulldogs, but added that he was pleased with their play nonetheless.
“The important thing when you go on the road is to put yourself in a position to score,” Tompkins said. “I would be worried if we weren’t creating chances to score, but we did that yesterday, we just didn’t finish.”
Although Yale will not enter its Ivy League season — which begins at Cornell (3-2-1, 0-1 Ivy) on Saturday — with an unbeaten record, Ancient Eight opponents still believe the Elis are the team to beat.
“They’re a very very good team I think, one of the top teams in the country and they have a lot of different ways that they can beat you,” said Cornell head coach Bryan Scales. “Obviously Jay Alberts is a guy that does very well, they have speed in a lot of different positions, and they’re the favorite to win the league this year.”
The Big Red, who lost 2-1 in overtime to Penn in their Ivy opener, won three games prior to that and feature a talented roster.
“We know that in all Ivy games the tempo and the intensity of the play is going to be higher than in most of our non-league games,” Tompkins said.
The Bulldogs will again face a strong goalie in Doug Allen, and Cornell center back Liam Hoban was an All-Ivy candidate last season. Juniors Ian Pilarski, who was an All-Ivy selection last season in the midfield, and Doug Charton, who plays forward, will also add offensive firepower to the Big Red attack.
Scales is not the only one who thinks the Bulldogs could potentially find themselves atop the Ivy League at the end of the season.
“We have the speed and the personnel to take the league,” Yingst said. “We just need to bring it on game days. Simple as that.”