Deja vu was the name of the game in Cambridge last Saturday.

The Yale men’s soccer team (2-6, 1-0 Ivy) downed Harvard (4-5, 0-1) in an almost identical repeat of last season’s 1-0 win over the Crimson. Mirroring his 2003 performance against Harvard, Eli midfielder Andrew Dealy ’05 scored the only goal of the game in the ninth minute when he headed in a free kick taken by captain Ryan Raybould ’05. Last year, Dealy scored the only goal of the game during the ninth minute off a penalty kick in the box.

The energy and excitement Saturday — which have become long-standing traditions in Yale-Harvard soccer games — helped the Elis maintain a high level of intensity and focus throughout the match. A raucous and abusive crowd of Crimson fans, combined with the bitter rivalry between the two schools, added to the Bulldogs’ enjoyment of the game.

“We talked before the game about the need to appreciate and enjoy the hostile environment and to not be distracted by it,” Yale head coach Brian Tompkins said. “The Yale-Harvard game is always a tightly contested game. It can sometimes be ruined because emotions can overwhelm the quality of the game.”

Raybould said that it is always fun to play in such a hostile environment, and that the team’s play was unaffected by the crowd and the pressure of a Yale-Harvard game.

The Bulldogs’ offense was dangerous right from the beginning. Dealy and Raybould, supported by forward Alex Munns ’07 and midfielder Shannon Brooks ’06, led a series of attacks which kept Harvard playing a defensive game for most of the first half.

Raybould and Dealy demonstrated just how potent that offense was when they combined for a goal early in the game. Raybould spun a free kick from just outside the box to the near goal post. Dealy gained position on the Crimson defenders and was able to head the ball into the left corner of the goal just before the nine-minute mark.

Harvard struggled offensively throughout the first half. The Crimson played without their leading scorer, Anthony Tornaritis, who was forced to sit out the game after receiving a red card during a game against Maine Sept. 28. A strong Eli defense limited the Crimson to just one shot during the first 45 minutes.

“We thought we’d get at least one goal,” Harvard head coach John Kerr said. “[But] we never made that final pass or final shot count, and Yale did a great job of defending.” 

Despite a disappointing first-half performance, Harvard emerged from the locker room after the break with new energy. The Crimson attacked Yale’s defense with an intensity that threatened to turn the game to Harvard’s favor. The Bulldogs opened a gap for the Crimson, allowing six shots on goal during the second half. But Harvard was unable to capitalize on any of these opportunities, often glancing shots off the posts and driving the ball just wide of the goal.

“In the second half, Harvard started to pick up the pressure,” Tompkins said. “We were fortunate that they didn’t score.”

Saturday’s win comes on the heels of Yale’s first victory of the season against Fairfield on Wednesday. Despite their recent success, the Bulldogs refuse to allow themselves to become complacent.

“It’s just two wins,” Raybould said. “We still have aspirations and goals, and this was definitely a positive step in the right direction.”