Men’s soccer starter Ryan Morrissey ’06 has been a staple in the Yale backfield since his freshman year, providing stellar play and leadership throughout. But after 51 career games the defensive standout has yet to score a goal. Luckily for the Bulldogs, he picked a good time to end that drought.
Morrissey scored the lone goal of the game yesterday with four minutes left in regulation to push Yale past Central Connecticut State 1-0, in New Britain, Conn.
“What we did well is that we found a way,” forward Alex Munns ’07 said. “That was the overarching theme today. We didn’t play our best, we missed on a lot of chances but it’s about turning around and bringing enough to get the job done.”
Coming off a solid offensive effort against Harvard last weekend, the Bulldogs relied on their defense to shut down the Blue Devils. But the Bulldogs were not without their chances, especially in the first half, outshooting CCSU 5-0. Despite the opportunities, Yale could not execute on the chances and went into the half feeling a little disappointed.
The Blue Devils evened out the possession battle in the second half, implementing a more aggressive offensive attack. But that was when Yale goalkeeper Matt Aleksinas ’06 took over. Aleksinas came up big in his season debut with six saves.
Yale finally broke through in the waning moments of the game. Munns pushed the ball up the sideline and found a well-positioned Gage Hills ’07. Hills broke through two defenders and made a perfect feed to Morrissey just inside the 18-yard box, and Morrissey banged it in for the score.
Yale head coach Brian Tompkins said he was happy with how the play was executed and was not surprised with Morrissey’s finish.
“I felt we had a lot of great chances, especially in the first half that didn’t go our way,” Tompkins said. “We were just looking for that play and it was a beautifully played goal … We played [Morrissey] as a forward today because I felt we needed to hold onto the ball against Central. It was a tactical gamble, and he responded very well. He earned that goal.”
But the story of the game was Yale’s defensive effort, most notably from Aleksinas, the goalkeeper. Although making his first start of the season, the senior keeper — who was a regular contributor last year — said it felt natural being out there again.
“I was pretty optimistic coming out today,” Aleksinas said. “I had a few butterflies but it was pretty fun. The defense did a great job today. There was no concern about being rusty, because practice has taken a lot of the rust off. It was just good to be out there.”
Aleksinas was the third different goalkeeper used in as many games. While this strategy may raise a few eyebrows about Yale’s number one keeper for the rest of the season, it does illustrate the great depth at a critical position.
“[Erik] Geiger and Dwayne [Whylly] are great goalies,” Aleksinas said. “Like Geiger said, we have a pretty good core. I think it helps out the team knowing that no matter who is back there, he’ll be solid.”
While the goalkeeper position is still uncertain, Tompkins said he is comfortable with all three choices.
“I felt it was time for Erik to work on a few parts of his game,” Tompkins said. “He’s working hard and looking really sharp again. It’s a good opportunity for the other guys to get some live action and both responded very well. I haven’t made a final decision.”
Tompkins said the team will revisit the situation during a team practice today.
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