Three was the men’s soccer team’s magic number Saturday night.
Forward Lindsey Williams ’05 scored his third goal of the season, goalkeeper Dwayne Whylly ’08 started his third game and the Bulldogs battled their way to their third consecutive win as Yale downed No. 14 Penn 1-0 at Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium. Playing under the lights, in front of a packed stand, the Elis made one of their strongest showings of the season.
With the win, Yale moved into a three-way tie with Dartmouth and Harvard for first place in the Ivy League.
“Over the years, we’ve had some exciting nights in the soccer stadium, when there’s great energy on the field and in the stands,” Yale head coach Brian Tompkins said. “Last night was one of them.”
After a deadlocked first half, when neither team was able to break out offensively, the Elis stepped up after the break. During the second half, Yale (5-8, 3-1 Ivy) outshot Penn (6-4-2, 2-1-1 Ivy) 12-3, and for the most part kept the ball away from the feet of Penn’s primary scoring threat Stephen Kroculick, who leads the Quakers in goals this season.
“We played sharp in the second half, and we beat a good team because of it,” Tompkins said.
Yale’s offense, which struggled early in the season, hit its stride Saturday night. Powered by forwards Gage Hills ’07, Alex Munns ’07 and Williams, the Elis attacked a well-organized Penn defense with quick, controlled passing and superior speed.
“I have to give credit to our forwards,” Whylly said. “They hustled the most out of anyone on the field. Because of the pressure they applied on the defense, it made the job easier for the rest of the team.”
Williams scored the only goal of the game at 75:21. Munns fired a shot that deflected off Penn goalkeeper Daniel Cepero. Williams snagged the rebound and knocked the ball into the goal, breaking the stalemate. Williams, who led the Ivy League in scoring his sophomore year, has been nursing a sore ankle and has played sparingly in recent games.
Hills’ stellar performance boosted the Elis’ offense. The sophomore forward had his sixth career start on Saturday and, with four goals, is tied for second on the team in scoring this season.
“Hills just terrorized Penn,” Tompkins said. “He’s starting to blossom now as a Div. I player.”
Saturday night was Whylly’s first career shutout for the Bulldogs. He and Matt Aleksinas ’06 combined for a 7-0 shutout over Sacred Heart last week. Whylly’s strengths — from his quickness off the line to his ability to control the backfield — were on full display Saturday.
“Penn had a couple good chances, and [Whylly] came up with the saves he needed,” Raybould said. “He did a good job organizing the defense. He had a couple key saves that kept our momentum going.”
A win over Penn was important for the Elis, who are in the hunt for an Ivy League title.
“This year, Penn was the team to beat,” Whylly said. “And we did that. That gives us hope and inspiration for the rest of the season.”
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