Fifth time’s a charm for the men’s soccer team.
Yale (1-4), which won its first game of the season yesterday, took home a split in the Dartmouth Classic after dropping the opening match to St. Francis (2-6), 2-0, before coming back to take down UW-Milwaukee (0-8), 3-1. The Eli offense came to life against the Panthers on Sunday after the three-game scoreless streak that opened the season.
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”13574″ ]
Despite out-shooting the Red Flash on Friday night in Hanover, the Elis’ offensive frustrations continued, and they were unable to put the ball away. But the Red Flash exposed the Elis’ concentration problems in the early minutes of each stanza by snatching a goal early in each of the halves.
A breakaway shot by Jarron Brooks ricocheted off the far post for the first goal of the game at 9:40. The Red Flash’s eerily similar second tally, at 9:01 into the second half, was a well-placed shot from 35 yards that found its way to the upper right corner. But goalkeeper Dwayne Whylly ’08 fended off St. Francis’ two other shots on goal to notch his first saves of the season.
Yale head coach Brian Tompkins said the first goal came from a mental lapse but that the Elis played well on Friday.
“They played a long ball behind us and we didn’t deal with it well, so that was a concentration error,” he said. “But then we settled down and had the majority of possession for the rest of the game. It has reached almost surreal proportions as to how much we can have the ball and not get it in the goal. It was another frustrating day.”
The Bulldog offense picked up the effort in the second half by launching seven shots and forcing seven corners. Along with the five shots picked up in the first stanza, the Elis matched the season-high 12 shots they had against Northwestern on opening day.
But the offense was unsuccessful until five minutes into its fifth game of the season against UW-Milwaukee yesterday. Following an early Milwaukee goal — Panther Travis Phillips rocketed a ball to the left side of the goal just 63 seconds into the game — midfielder Tyler Guse ’09 broke the Bulldogs’ scoreless streak. Five minutes into the match he placed a free kick just above the diving Panther netminder to even the score.
“For whatever reason we still weren’t quite there on Friday, but on Sunday we finally came through to win the game,” Guse said. “It really wasn’t that big of a difference except on Sunday we just finished our chances. [The win] is a huge confidence booster to have the assurance that we can score and we can win games. Hopefully we can build off of this game and keep scoring and keep winning.”
Guse’s goal seemed to break down the invisible floodgates hindering the Elis’ offense. Later in the half forward Brad Rose ’11 recorded the first goal of his NCAA career and the first from a member of the freshman class, allowing the Bulldogs to take the lead for the first time this season. Guse, not to be outdone, cemented the Yale victory by burying midfielder Eric Meyer’s ’11 corner kick into the back of the net in the second half.
The Bulldogs were able to put together their stellar defense with an offense that was waiting to break through to finally put a W on the board. Captain and goalkeeper Erik Geiger ’08 held off the slew of UWM shots — 15 in total — with eight saves.
“This game on Sunday, we were able to put everything together, I think we were sharper,” Geiger said. “The point is we were taking shots and taking risks. Instead of playing to minimize space, we were playing as hard as we could for 90 minutes. We had a will to win that we didn’t have previously. UWM tried to win and we shut their game down.”
Though the Elis were finally able to put their game together and get a win under their belts, they will be tested again when they head up to Boston on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. Tompkins said the Bulldogs know they are going in to face Boston College as the underdogs, but that they hope for an upset in Beantown.
But the victory in Hanover may be the what will pull the Elis out of the early season slump.
“We must have been the best team in the country without a win,” Geiger said. “It’s our fault, we had games before this that we could have and should have won. It’s going to be a tough Ivy season but playing tough preseason games like BC will help us prepare for that.”