The men’s soccer team’s best performance of the season could not have been more timely.
Midfielder Andrew Dealy ’05 scored twice as No. 22 Yale ended its regular season with a 2-0 victory Saturday in Princeton, N.J.
The Bulldogs (10-6-1, 5-1-1 Ivy), who now have reached double-digit wins for the sixth time in eight years, will learn today if they received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The tournament field will be announced on ESPN News at 4 p.m.
“It was the best we played all season,” midfielder Ryan Raybould ’05 said. “It’s a good way to end — with the pinnacle.”
In the past, the Bulldogs have started strong and proceeded to trail off. This year, in somewhat reverse fashion, Yale opened the season 1-3 and has since gone 9-3-1.
“We’re usually a September team, not a November team,” Raybould said. “This year, we’ve gotten better as the year’s gone on. We did everything we could. We’ve had a pretty good season and beat some quality teams, like [the University of Connecticut]. Now, it’s up to [the selection committee]. The win against Princeton was a pretty strong statement.”
In a game bookended by Yale goals, the Bulldogs simply dominated the Tigers (6-8-3, 3-3-2).
At 9:36, Yale was awarded a penalty kick when a Princeton defender committed a hand-ball violation. Dealy converted for his third penalty kick goal of the season.
Dealy added an insurance goal in the 86th minute on a breakaway pass from forward Gage Hills ’07.
“Dealy had one of his best games of the season, and when he is playing well, the whole team is playing well,” Raybould said.
An honorable mention All-Ivy selection last year, Dealy leads the team in points and assists and is tied for the lead in goals.
“He really works hard out there,” Hills said. “He’s always in control of the ball and is really deceptive. You think he’s going one way, and he goes the other.”
The Bulldogs outshot the Tigers, 15-5. But a more telling statistic is the score itself — Saturday’s win was Yale’s first of the season by a margin of more than one goal.
Throughout the season, the Bulldogs have had little trouble getting off shots. But they have struggled to translate those shots into goals, which has proven costly. Had Yale been able to make good on more of its shots, it very well could have been Ivy League champion. In the two conference games the Bulldogs did not win, they outshot their opponents, 34-4.
This weekend, the Bulldogs were able to finish on a couple of their scoring chances.
“To be honest, it was nice to be able to separate ourselves from Princeton,” Raybould said. “It gave us some breathing room.”
Despite the two-goal spread, the Bulldogs were still not as efficient as they could have been, Hills said.
“We did a good job of attacking, but we still couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net,” he said. “We could have been up 2-0 fifteen minutes into the game.”
On the other end of the field, Yale’s defense was sparkling. The Bulldogs limited the Tigers to five shots while Matt Aleksinas ’06 posted his seventh shutout of the year.
“We put a lot of defensive pressure on them,” Raybould said. “They never really got going. Our center backs and outside backs did a great job and never let Princeton get behind them. Matt [Aleksinas] did a great job, too, and came up with some big saves. Offense, defense — everything was working for us.”
Regardless of whether Yale makes the tournament, some team members cited Saturday’s win as a defining moment for the Bulldogs.
“It was one of our goals to get to double digits in wins,” defender Shannon Brooks ’06 said. “It was a good, hard-fought win. It was a good note to end the season on.”
That is not to say the Bulldogs are not anxiously awaiting Tuesday afternoon, when their postseason fate will be unveiled.
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