A slew of lineup changes was not enough to get the men’s soccer team out of the offensive doldrums Friday night against Brown.
With a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Bears, the Bulldogs (6-10, 3-3 Ivy) sank from second to fifth in the Ivy League standings. Brown (8-5-2, 4-2), which is now tied for second place in the Ivies, scored the only goal of the game at 57:31.
The Bulldogs, in response to a series of offensively-inert games, made radical changes to their starting lineup in preparation for the Bears. The Elis have been shut out six times this season, including last week’s 1-0 loss to Columbia.
“After the Columbia game the coaching staff decided that we would probably benefit from a new look and a new feel for our starting lineup,” Yale head coach Brian Tompkins said. “I felt that our play was getting a little bit predictable and that we just needed to do something to energize the team.”
Changes to the starting lineup included moving All-Ivy midfielder Andrew Dealy ’05 up to the forward position, pairing him with forward Lindsey Williams ’05. The two present a potent offensive threat. Dealy led the team last year in points with five goals and eight assists. Williams led the Ivy League in scoring his sophomore year.
Midfielder James Stewart ’07 joined the starting lineup this weekend. Stewart, who teamed up with captain Ryan Raybould ’05 at center midfield, had usually seen playing time as a substitute in the outside midfielder slot. Alex Munns ’07 and Gage Hills ’07 were pulled back from their usual forward positions to fill in the outside mid slots.
Tompkins said he was encouraged by the effects the new lineup had on the Bulldogs’ play.
“Anytime you make radical changes to your lineup, you need to give it a little time to kind of settle and adjust,” Tompkins said. “Of course there are going to be miscues and communication gaps and mistakes at times. Overall, I think the results were very positive.”
But the Bears are notoriously difficult competition — they have won or shared the Ivy title seven out of the last ten years.
“It’s never easy to win at Brown,” Tompkins said. “It’s never easy to get a result there, and that was proven yet again.”
A win was necessary for the Bulldogs to remain in contention for the Ivy League title. Prior to the game, the Elis and the Bears were part of a four-way tie for second place in the conference.
“The game was definitely a crucial one for both of us to see who could assert themselves in the Ivy League race,” Raybould said.
Forward Kevin Davies put the Bears on the scoreboard during the 58th minute. Brown midfielder Marcos Romaneiro gained control of the ball at midfield and fired a long pass toward Davies. Romaneiro’s pass snuck behind the Eli defense, and Davies hit an uncontested shot from five yards out. The ball rolled just out of reach of Yale goalkeeper Dwayne Whylly ’08, who had two saves on the night.
“That stroke of bad luck was the game,” forward Alex Munns ’07 said, referring to the lone goal. “That was the only clear-cut chance they had to score all game.”
The Elis were unable to answer back with a goal of their own. Yale’s best shot to score came a few minutes on the heels of Brown’s goal. Hills sent a ball across the box to Munns, but he headed the ball just wide of the goal. Minding the net for the Bears was Chris Gomez, who needed to make just one save for the shutout.
Despite the poor result, Tompkins was optimistic about the team’s play.
“We played very well at times during the first half,” he said. “We passed the ball better than we have all season. We looked confident and composed with the ball and it was a fairly even game.”
The Bulldogs take the field for their final matchup of the season, against Princeton, Saturday at Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium.