Results cannot tell the whole story, especially when two goose eggs are involved.
The men’s soccer team (1-4-1) took on ACC powerhouse No. 21 Boston College (7-1-1) on the road and came away with a 0-0 tie. The unrelenting defense on both sides of the field would come to define this double-overtime game in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
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The defensive battle raged for all 110 minutes as the two squads were unable to maintain possession on the attack, but kept up strong defensive fronts that warded off any decent shots. Captain and goalkeeper Erik Geiger ’08 said the Elis’ strategy was to play directly from the defense to offense to avoid BC collapsing on them in the midfield. On the offensive end, both the Bulldogs’ and the Eagles’ shots, crosses and forward passes just kept missing their mark, and the game saw 16 total corner kicks.
“In a game like that, your game is to catch the other team on a counter attack,” midfielder Jordan Raybould ’10 said. “We had some good chances. In a game where you’re under that much pressure from the other team you can’t pass around the midfield like our normal style of play.”
Though shots on both sides of the field were not very accurate, the goalkeepers — Geiger and Chris Brown — kept their teams in the game. Geiger made a season-high 12 saves in response to 34 shots from the Eagles offense.
Add the keepers’ impressive performances to the resolute defending, and the Bulldogs and Eagles reached a stalemate for two halves and two overtimes.
For the Elis, defenders Frank Piasta ’09 and Alex Guzinski ’09 held off the main attacks from the BC offense in the center of the field. Max Rhodes ’09 and James Craig ’08 were equally unbeatable on the wings, forcing many Eagle players out of bounds.
“We did a very good job stepping up to the plate against the [Soccer America] No. 6 team in the country,” Guzinski said. “[Our] strategy was very different but it makes sense because they would have pushed into our midfield. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective.”
The only downside was that the Bulldogs were unable to score. The team was able to put everything in their game together last Sunday to defeat UW-Milwaukee for their first win of the year, but yesterday, the offense continued to struggle. Despite not finding the back of the net, the forwards and midfielders did create many opportunities on goal, getting a season-high 18 shots off.
With about five minutes left to play in the second half, forward Brad Rose ’10 saw what would be the best chance to put the Elis ahead. He drilled the ball from about six yards out, but keeper Brown made a fantastic diving save to keep the game tied.
To mirror Yale’s scoring chance, the Eagles — in what would be their last scoring opportunity of the game — had the ball near the top of the box with less than a minute left and launched a hard shot at Geiger, who came up with an amazing save of his own by diving to his left and knocking the ball back into play.
“As a team we knew we would have to defend really well to limit their opportunities,” Geiger said. “The defense definitely helped me out, and I was feeling good today. I went in with the mentality that they weren’t going to win. I think we hit our stride and this is the turning point for the season. We’re a much better team than the record shows.”
The Elis hope to use the tie to keep up the quality of their mental game. The problems with concentration the Bulldogs have had in the opening and closing minutes of every game thus far this year vanished last night. And the team may have finally figured out the way to succeed with what they have on the field.
“We have a lot more confidence,” Raybould said. “We’re going to try and carry this momentum into the Ivy season. We figured out what we need and now we’ve figured out how to play together.”