When the Yale men’s soccer team opens its home season Sunday, the Elis still won’t have a permanent starting goalkeeper.
Three key players are battling for the starting spot in goal. With the graduation of Geoff Hollington ’05, it is unclear whether veteran Matt Aleksinas ’06, 6-foot-2 Erik Geiger ’08, or impressively agile Dwayne Whylly ’08 will end up in the starting spot.
Aleksinas and Whylly have the most experience and seem to be the most qualified — at least on paper. Last season, Whylly played 424 minutes and went 2-2-0 in games played, while Aleksinas had slightly less playing time with 368 minutes and a record of 2-3-0. Geiger, on the other hand, played a total of 45 minutes in one game last season. But the statistics don’t tell the whole story.
Geiger started the first game of the season Wednesday in Fairfield, where the team tied 1-1. In his first career start, the sophomore posted three saves, but allowed a goal in the 78th minute that tied up the game.
“Eric is a consistent, confident and courageous goalkeeper,” head coach Brian Tompkins said. “With his height and good athletic abilities, he’s able to create a big presence in the goal.”
Geiger said that the Elis gain a crucial advantage from their surplus of netminders.
“Between the three of us, we have the best pool of keepers in the Ivy League,” he said. “We help push one another to play at the best level we can.”
Tompkins said Aleksinas’ leadership and experience could contribute a lot to the Elis’ title push.
“Matt is a great leader in many ways for the team: he has lots of experience in Ivy contests, he’s an incredible worker and he’s not afraid to sacrifice his body,” Tompkins said.
But Aleksinas was quick to note that leadership of the team is a collective effort.
“The senior class really works together and makes sure that the freshmen are a part of the team,” Aleksinas said.
Whylly, the shortest of the three at 5-foot-9, distinguishes himself from the others with his athletic ability, Tompkins said.
“Dwayne is a great athlete,” Tompkins said. “He has great agility and quick reactions.”
But even with the first game of the season already in the books, the Elis still do not know who will be their permanent starter in goal.
“I can’t tell you at this point who will be the starting keeper,” Tompkins said. “Right now, we see how each is playing day in and day out, and then we make a decision.”
Captain Shannon Brooks ’06 said that the starter will be determined not by which players made mistakes but rather by whose play peaked at the right time.
Tompkins said he was generally happy with team’s performance on Wednesday.
“[Fairfield was] a good opponent who kept us under a lot of pressure,” Tompkins said. “We were impatient at times, which caused us to commit more turnovers than we wanted. … Overall, I was impressed with the team’s performance.”
For now, Tompkins is sticking with his choice from Wednesday — when the Bulldogs take on Providence on Sunday, Geiger will be the starting keeper.