All men’s soccer head coach Brian Tompkins could do was shake his head in disbelief as the first half of play expired on Sunday.

He had watched his team take a 1-0 lead over nationally ranked No. 15 Creighton (3-3-2) before witnessing what could only be described as a defensive meltdown. In a 3:44 minute stretch late in the first half, the Blue Jays erupted for three unanswered goals en route to a 3-1 win in the second round of the Yale Soccer Classic Sunday at the Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium.

“It was 10 minutes of madness,” Tompkins said. “We never saw that coming.”

The Elis (1-3) emerged aggressive from the opening whistle. Stringing together precision passes, they relentlessly pressured the Blue Jays’ backline, culminating in Jay Alberts’ ’04 goal at 17:20, putting Yale ahead 1-0.

“We were playing as well as we’re capable of,” Tompkins said. “The first 20 minutes could not have gone much better.”

The following 20 minutes could not have gone much worse. At 32:35, with their first look at the net, the Blue Jays tied the score when Zach Piercy deflected Brian Biggerstaff’s cross past outstretched goalkeeper Matt Aleksinas ’05. Creighton continued to find holes in the Elis’ defense, and nearly three minutes later, Jarod Tarver converted on a penalty kick. Less than a minute passed before Michael Kraus added a third Creighton goal at 36:19.

“We lost concentration on offense and defense,” Tompkins said. “When you’ve got a good team down, you’ve got to keep them down. We learned that lesson the hard way.”

Creighton head coach Bob Warming said his team gained confidence after scoring its first goal.

“We were lucky not to be down three-nil after the first half,” he said. “We just needed to break the ice. We got our three goals, and we were able to sit back and play defense.”

Play was fairly even, and physical, in the second half; tension on the field rose palpably as the game progressed.

Players shoved, tugged at each other’s jerseys and often exchanged words; coaches could be heard shouting from the sidelines.

“The officiating was uneven,” said Tompkins, who received one of four yellow cards issued in the game. “It changes the emotional flow of the game, especially when players are frustrated. For both teams, it was hard to figure out what kind of conduct the referees were allowing.”

Yale received three yellow cards; Creighton earned just one. The two teams amassed 18 fouls between them over the course of the game, the majority coming in the second half.

Although both teams had ample scoring opportunities in the second half, neither could produce a goal. When the final whistle blew, the scoreboard remained unchanged from the end of the first half, a painful reminder to the Elis of that disastrous 3:44.

In the first round of the Yale Soccer Classic on Friday, Yale fell to Fairleigh Dickinson University. Fairleigh Dickinson’s Johnny David scored at 6:02; the Knights held off the Elis for the 1-0 win.

Fairleigh Dickinson (3-1-1) defeated nationally ranked No. 18 Brown (3-1), 2-1, on a penalty kick in the second overtime in the early game yesterday to capture the tournament title. Brown beat Creighton 1-0 in the tournament’s first game Friday.

Yale returns to action when it hosts Hartford next Saturday at the Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium.

“We’ve been in the arena; we’ve battled against some top teams,” Tompkins said. “Normally, we do well in the nonconference segment of our schedule. We just have to take our lumps. I think we’re going to be okay in the long run.”

Notes: Alberts and Andrew Dealy ’05 were selected to the All-Tournament team. Fairleigh Dickinson’s Johnny David was named Tournament Most Valuable Player.