After a long streak of away games, the Elis will have the comfort of starting off the Ivy season at home this weekend. The stakes are high, but so is morale.
A win against Princeton (3-2-2) would establish Yale (3-3-1) as one of this season’s Ivy League contenders, but a loss could take the wind out of the Bulldogs’ sails, which have been bolstered by recent success.
The Elis have spent their last three games in Des Moines, Iowa; Omaha, Neb.; and Tea Neck, N.J., enduring the tribulations posed by some of the nation’s best college soccer teams. The first game against Drake offered a 1-1 tie in which the Bulldogs battled up until the last minute, when they scored the tying goal. The second game ended in disappointment, as Yale failed to score a goal while allowing Creighton to notch three in less than 20 minutes. But the third game brought hope when the Elis surged to wrest No. 17 Farleigh Dickinson’s one-goal lead and turn it into a 2-1 win.
If the Elis win this weekend, they can reclaim the winning record that they boasted in early September — but it will be a difficult battle. Princeton, like Yale, has a mediocre record, but the Tigers are ranked 10th in the Northeast, while Yale is unranked. The Tigers have also fared well against difficult teams, holding Stanford to a 0-0 tie for their season opener and defeating American University 1-0 early in the month. But Farleigh Dickinson hammered Princeton, 3-0, in preseason play, so the Elis have the upper hand in this respect and are looking to follow their strong win at FDU with a victory over Princeton.
“We’ve been working really hard all season,” captain Jordan Rieger ’07 said. “Last game, our work was rewarded by getting some goals in at the end and getting the win.”
Though they will need to be in top form to trample the Tigers, the Elis are confident. In spite of Yale’s preseason challenges, their win over Fairleigh Dickinson has put them in high spirits. Forward Alex Munns ’07 said he thinks Yale is ready to make a statement in the Ivy League.
“We want to get our solid 90 minutes on both sides of the field, both attacking and being consistently dangerous, and in our defending and not letting up any goals,” Munns said. “We haven’t lost any games in which we’ve scored, so it comes down to us scoring a goal, and hopefully us showing up some of the mental errors we’ve had in the back. And I have every confidence we can do that.”
Munns also said the Elis have not lost to Princeton since his class came to Yale, and the seniors do not plan to start now. Goalie Erik Geiger ’08 echoes his teammates’ sentiments.
“We’ve got to play our game and make people adjust to us,” Geiger said. “We go into every game hoping to win, and it would be disappointing not to.”