Those fashionable fans who arrived even five minutes late to Saturday’s men’s soccer game would have missed all the scoring action.

The Bulldogs dropped a disappointing 1-0 decision to Columbia at Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium. The loss ended the Elis’ four game winning streak and knocked them out of the first place tie in the Ivy League standings. Columbia’s Thorsteinn Gestsson scored at 3:18, and the early goal proved to be an insurmountable obstacle for the Bulldogs (6-9, 3-2 Ivy).

“We didn’t play well,” Yale head coach Brian Tompkins said. “We were careless with the ball and we got beaten in a lot of challenges.”

In the fourth minute of the game, the Lions (3-10-2, 1-4 Ivy) scored the only goal of the contest. Midfielder Einar Benediktsson fired a shot at Eli goalkeeper Dwayne Whylly ’08. Whylly made the save but was unable to hold onto the ball. The rebound deflected toward Columbia forward Gestsson, who buried his shot for his fourth goal of the season.

“I think we got lucky on the goal opportunity,” Columbia head coach Dieter Ficken said. “After that, it was certainly one of the best Ivy games this year, at least for us. Yale gave everything they had. We barely stayed in there.”

Down an early goal, the Bulldogs had to pour all their energy into offensive attacks. Attempting to keep fresh players up front, forwards Lindsey Williams ’05, Gage Hills ’07, Alex Munns ’07 and Josh Block ’07 were constantly subbed in and out of the game. But the Elis were unable to find the goal. During the first half, the defense and midfield were able to push the ball up into the corners, but could not hit through balls or crosses to get near the net.

The Bulldogs played slightly better in the second half. They were able to control the ball up front and serve the ball to forwards in front of the net. However, despite having three of the top ten Ivy League leaders in points — Hills, Munns, and midfielder Andrew Dealy ’05 — Yale was still unable to find a way to even the score.

“We improved in the second half, but the early goal proved too big of a setback,” Tompkins said.

The Elis’ best chance to score came with 25 minutes left in the game. Munns let off a shot, but it was denied by Columbia goalkeeper Alex Maffeo. Williams met the rebound and hit another shot, but Maffeo again made the save to protect the Lions’ lead.

As the second half progressed, Yale grew increasingly desperate to score and the game became more and more physical. Two yellow cards were given out in a span of five minutes. Eli midfielder Shannon Brooks ’06 earned the first, at 58:41, for taking down a Columbia player near the sideline.

The second card was given to Columbia defender Sekou Cox at 62:14. Yale midfielder James Stewart ’07 dribbled the ball up the left side of the field. Cox tackled Stewart as he approached the box, earning a loud, angry reproach from the crowd. Stewart recovered and chased the ball into the corner. Again, Cox took Stewart down, this time earning himself a yellow card. Stewart was unsatisfied with the official’s punishment and pushed Cox, attempting to provoke a fight. Cox pushed back, but the two were soon separated by teammates and officials.

The Lions’ goalkeeping proved to be the difference Saturday afternoon. Dean Arnaoutakis had three saves in the first half and Maffeo had five in the second. The two combined for the shutout and Columbia’s first Ivy victory this season.

Despite the loss, the Elis remain optimistic about their chances to win the conference. With upcoming games against Brown and Princeton, the Bulldogs do not have time to dwell on the defeat.

“The nature of the Ivy League that it’s always up in the air until the last week,” Yale captain Ryan Raybould ’05 said. “This week, we’re going to iron out some kinks and get a solid performance out in Providence.”

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