While the varsity men’s soccer team defeated nationally ranked No. 19 Stanford over the weekend, the men’s club soccer team also kicked off its new campaign with a comfortable 3-1 victory at home over Manhattan College.
Captain Christian Dietrich ’05, Damon Benedict ’06 and Michael Gray ’05 scored for the Bulldogs (1-0). The Elis again will participate in the North East Regional Tournament of the National Association of College Soccer Clubs this year. The club soccer squad competes during both the autumn and spring months.
Last season, after a disappointing fall start, the Bulldogs rebounded to secure a winning record overall. The Elis improved over the spring matches and earned a semifinals appearance at the Cornell Invitational in April. At the Cornell tournament, Yale defeated strong sides from Georgetown and Boston College before narrowly falling to Delaware in the final round, 1-2.
The victory over Manhattan College (0-1) marks the beginning of the program’s second serious season. The young club’s most senior members are the three captains, who are juniors. Although the club men’s soccer program has been present at Yale for decades, last year’s solid finish gave the club momentum. More than 60 prospective members attended the club’s preliminary tryout two weeks ago; the three captains — Dietrich, George Quraishi ’05 and Lucas Knowles ’05 — were forced to cut 40 people from the roster.
“This year’s tryouts had been unexpectedly competitive,” Dietrich said. “We had to cut around 10 players who were on the team last year, and there were still a lot of other players who would definitely have played decent minutes last season that did not make the squad.”
In the next two months, the Bulldogs’ fixtures will feature not only regular matches in the New England region, but also a college invitational tournament, to be held at Penn State University.
All these tournaments will prepare the Elis for the NACSC national qualification northeastern tournament at Princeton in October. If the Bulldogs qualify, it will be their debut at the nationals, which will be held at the University of Alabama this year over Thanksgiving Break.
Those who survived the tryout process welcome the challenges from the new faces and look forward to lift the club’s overall standard.
“The club has jumped up to another level this year. It has been a whole new way of thinking about club soccer for many of us, and we can already see so much potential to do well,” said Diego Rotalde ’05, who is returning for his third season with the Bulldogs.
The squad has ‘recruited’ ex-varsity players, such as Dietrich and Michael Schoell ’06, who will bring invaluable experience and knowledge of soccer to the team.
The fall portion of the season will see the Bulldogs in action every Friday afternoon. Their next match is Sept. 19, at home against Wesleyan.