Continuing in the spirit of its recent games, the men’s soccer team held out until the final minutes to pull off an upset.
In the wake of an astonishing victory against Fairleigh Dickinson, the Bulldogs (4-3-1, 1-0 Ivy) showed they are ready to compete for first in the Ivy League this season with a 3-2 win against Princeton (3-3-2, 0-1). Coming back from a 2-0 deficit, the Tigers tied it up and continued to press the Elis in the second half until midfielder Jordan Raybould ’10 sealed a Yale victory.
Saturday’s game started out smoothly for the Bulldogs. Forward Alex Munns ’07 scored the first goal of the game in the first five minutes. The goal came off of midfielder James Stewart’s ’07 pass that beguiled the Princeton defenders. Munns returned Stewart’s favor at the 25 minute mark when he set Stewart up with a pass for the Elis’ second score.
Through the first half, the Elis prevented the Tigers from scoring. Goalie Erik Geiger ’08 fended off Princeton’s attempts with three first-half saves. The Tigers missed a total of six shots in the first half.
Despite the early lead, Geiger said the Elis allowed the Princeton offense to cross over too many times in the first half.
“At halftime, we were up 2-0, but we didn’t play particularly well to get there,” Geiger said. “In the first half, we allowed them to go wide too often, but in the second half we did a better job.”
Although the Eli defense prevented the Tigers offense from crossing over in the second period, the Tigers were able to catch up. At the 54-minute mark, Princeton midfielder Devin Muntz stepped into the box and rifled the ball past Geiger. Four minutes later, midfielder Jame Wunsch saved the ball from going past the endline and passed it to midfielder Brian Brady for a goal.
The Bulldogs were in danger of going into overtime with Princeton on the rise. The Yale offense kept trying to force shots past Princeton goalie Justin Oppenheimer, but he fought back with an impressive nine saves in the second half.
What happened next was a moment of brilliance, Munns said. Stewart headed the ball at the goal, but it bounced off the goalpost. Raybould was there to catch the rebound and he took advantage of the opportunity by knocking in the winning goal, his first as a Bulldog. With only eight minutes left in the game, Raybould’s goal was enough to seal the victory.
The resolve and endurance of this year’s team signifies that it will fight for the top of the Ivy ranks, yet it is too early to be sure.
“This is only one win in the league and each game is different, providing a different challenge,” Munns said. “It doesn’t stop for us. The tough games keep coming.”
Some Elis said the game showed there were problems that need fixing. In particular, Munns said the team needs to work on one-on-one defense in order to stop teams from getting more shots on goal. Another problem that the Elis have to face is that they cannot afford to let up, even for a few minutes.
“The most important thing is keeping our concentration for a full 90 minutes,” team captain and midfielder Jordan Rieger ’07 said. “We’ve shown signs that we are able.”