The men’s soccer team has nothing left to play for at this point, apart from pride. Fortunately, neither does Columbia.
Yale (5-9-1, 1-4 Ivy) will take on the Lions (7-6-2, 0-3-2 Ivy) at home in the Bulldogs’ penultimate game of the season on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. The Elis hope to ride the momentum they picked up after Tuesday’s win against Albany and to hold the Lions to last place in the Ivy League.
After the 1-0 shutout of the Great Danes earlier this week, the Bulldogs are upbeat about their chances against Columbia.
“[Tuesday night] was a good win,” defender Jordan Raybould ’10 said. “It was great to get off that six-game losing streak.”
Even though the Elis won this week, one aspect of their game that still needs attention is controlling the speed of their offense. Despite improvement over the last two games — the Bulldogs fired off 25 shots against Penn and Albany compared to just 13 shots in the previous two games — they need to work on slowing down their passes in the offensive third, captain and defender Jordan Rieger ’07 said.
Columbia has a strong defense, letting in just 16 of 168 shots fired against them. The Lions also boast very good individual players, Yale head coach Brian Tompkins said. Their attack is paced by Tom Davison, who leads the team with seven goals this season. Starting goalkeeper Michael Testa anchors the defense with a .737 save percentage, good for eighth in the conference.
“I think what we can expect is that they are going to work extremely hard,” he said. “They have some talented individuals. It’s going to be a tough, hard-fought game.”
Against Penn and Albany, the Bulldogs possessed the ball well and successfully defended set pieces, only allowing 22 shots against them in both games combined. Tompkins said the difference came down to the level of concentration.
“I think the guys concentrated really well and worked hard at just taking care of the small technical details that are involved,” he said. “They put all the pieces together better over the past two games.”
The Bulldogs’ match against the Lions — their last homestand of the season and the seniors’ final game at Reese Stadium — has emotional significance for the team.
“It’s a bittersweet experience for seniors when it comes to their last game,” Tompkins said. “It’s a proud moment to be representing Yale for the last time, but it’s also a sad one for [the seniors]. Our seniors are going to be very excited and ready to go out with a good performance.”
Rieger said the seniors will be highly anticipating the game.
“We’re really looking forward to playing our last home game of the season,” he said. “It’s going to be great having our friends and family out there watching.”
Despite the emotional atmosphere surrounding the match, the Elis are still focusing on beating Columbia. Rieger said the win against Albany was a payoff for the team’s hard work. A strong work ethic has been the team’s trademark this season, and even though the Bulldogs are seventh in the Ancient Eight standings and the season is winding down, they still plan to come out strong against the Lions.
“Even though this game doesn’t have any bearing at the top of the Ivy standings, there is no such thing as an unimportant Ivy game,” Tompkins said. “There will be plenty of passion in play and plenty of pride at stake. We’re not going to be taking this game lightly, and I don’t think Columbia will either.”