The weather might have been different, but the result was the same for the men’s soccer team Tuesday night.
In a rain-soaked game, the Elis (9-5-1, 2-3-1 Ivy) lost their fourth one-goal game, falling to No. 14 Boston College (14-4-0) 2-1.
The Bulldogs dominated on the field, outshooting the Eagles 21-6, but were plagued by what has been their weakness all season: an inability to finish.
“I really don’t think that we can control a game any more than we did this one without winning it,” head coach Brian Tompkins said.
The two teams opened the game with strong play, and the Bulldogs, as they would throughout, had a number of close calls in front of the Boston College net. But it was ultimately the Eagles who struck first 19 minutes into the game when midfielder Adam Pfeifer hit forward Oktay Kilic with a pass that Kilic put past Yale goalkeeper Geoff Hollington ’05 to put Boston College up 1-0.
“Under the circumstances that we have Big East semifinals and finals coming up it was very good that we could stay focused,” Boston College head coach Ed Kelly said.
Despite scoring opportunities for several Bulldogs, including forward Justin Burton ’04 and Brian Roberts ’04, the two teams headed into halftime with the Eagles holding onto their 1-0 lead.
In the second half, the Elis continued to struggle inside the Eagles’ penalty box. As a result, the Bulldogs had difficulty penetrating the 18-yard line with their passing.
Solid play in the backfield by defensemen Steve Gibbons ’03 and Colin Stirrat ’03 kept Boston College out of the Yale half, leading to a stretch of nearly 15 minutes in which the Bulldogs essentially kept possession of the ball.
At halftime, Tompkins had substituted Ivy League Rookie of the Week Matt Aleksinas ’06 into goal for the Bulldogs, and the freshman had a huge save midway through the second half that kept Yale within one goal.
On a Boston College two-on-one breakaway, Aleksinas ran 10 yards out from the goal line and slid directly in front of the ball and both Boston College players to make the save.
“We wanted to give Matt another opportunity,” Tompkins said. “He came up with a big save. His game has developed nicely and we wanted to put him in a pressure situation.”
But despite the help, Yale’s scoring woes continued. An exchange between forwards Jay Alberts ’04 and Lindsey Williams ’05 nearly created the tying goal. In addition, a header from Gibbons with 17 minutes remaining nearly tied the score as well, but sailed just over the crossbar.
In a frustrating play, the Eagles converted a quick transition play, moving the ball the length of the field before attacking the Yale goal for what seemed like the only time all half. The odd-man break became the Eagles’ second goal with a shot from forward Casey Schmidt that eluded Aleksinas.
“We played well throughout the game, but we couldn’t capitalize on our chances,” Burton said. “They did a good job of scoring on two of their opportunities.”
While the Eagles had no corner kicks all day, the Bulldogs took nine. Several of midfielder Ryan Raybould’s ’05 kicks found their way into the goalmouth, but the Eli forwards could not turn any of Raybould’s long balls into goals.
Yale finally got its first score of the game with 2:42 remaining in the contest, but after all the quality chances the Bulldogs had compiled, the actual goal was anticlimactic.
Eagle goalie Kyle Singer appeared to think that a kick by midfielder Louis Pacilio ’06 was going to roll out of bounds over the goal line. Instead, Singer watched as the ball slowly rolled into the side of the goal.
“That’s what happens sometimes,” Tompkins said. “You have good opportunities all day and then when you do score, it’s something of an accident.”
With two minutes remaining, the Bulldogs tried furiously to record the tying goal, but their efforts were in vain once a Boston College defender cleared the ball with about 20 seconds remaining in the game, and the Eagles locked up their 2-1 victory.
“They’re a pretty good team and had us going all day,” Kelly said. “We held out well and it was a good battle.”
Despite rain that fell steadily all day, the field at the Soccer-Lacrosse stadium held up nicely, and despite a few slips and slides here and there the play was not really affected by the weather. Neither were the handful of 109 fans who were in attendance to watch what was an exciting game.
While the loss was a demoralizing one for the Elis, who are still hoping to get a bid to the NCAA tournament as their female counterparts did on Monday, they are not out of contention and have a game remaining against Princeton Saturday.
Yale does have five losses on the season, but four of them have been by one goal. The other, a 2-0 loss to Harvard, was a game in which the Elis were credited with an own-goal.
“I don’t know how the tournament bids work for the NCAA tournament, but we need to play well against Princeton this weekend,” Burton said. “I think we’re good enough to play with the better teams in the country, but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
Kelly, who is on the regional ranking committee for the Northeast region, had a more definitive answer.
“I think if they win their next game against Princeton they should get a bid,” he said.
Yale is not nationally ranked, but is tied for third in the Northeast with Holy Cross. Boston College is second in the northeast, and the University of Connecticut is in the top slot. The Bulldogs were slated to play the University of Connecticut earlier this season, but the game was rained out and not rescheduled.
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