The men’s soccer team is getting really familiar with scoreless ties in double overtime.
Yale (1-5-2, 0-0-1 Ivy) took on Dartmouth (6-4-2, 0-0-1) in their first Ivy League matchup Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Reese Stadium. The match ended 110 minutes later with a repeat of the Bulldogs’ 0-0 tie to No. 19 Boston College (9-1-1).
In the first half, Darmouth’s offense shone as they managed five shots and were able to penetrate deep into Yale territory. But the Eli defense — anchored by centers Frank Piasta ’09 and Alex Guzinski ’09 — blocked most attempts on goal. Any balls that found their way through were punched, grabbed, kicked or tipped away from the goal by captain and goalkeeper Erik Geiger ’08, whose seven saves hardly speak to his outstanding effort.
“Erik [Geiger] was fabulous today,” Yale head coach Brian Tompkins said. “He really rose to the occasion. Good goalkeeping is critical in the Ivy League and he’s shown he’s capable.”
Yale was able to stop the Big Green’s offensive efforts, but very few Bulldogs managed to get around the touted Dartmouth defense. The Big Green’s style of moving as a block put more men back on defense when the Elis were attacking. The forwards that pushed past the Dartmouth back line suffered from the same problems that have plagued the Bulldogs the entire season — either the final pass up the field has been off-target or the team has been unlucky just missing their shots.
About 23 minutes into the first half, midfielder Tyler Guse ’10 took a hard shot at an open net which went just wide, adding to Yale’s string of bad luck.
But the first half ended uneventfully with the score knotted at 0-0, and the Bulldog offense began to take control of the game going into the second part of the game.
“Coach, at the half, told us we were holding back and playing defensively,” midfielder Eric Meyer ’11 said. “He wanted us to move the ball and play more confidently. We have the right idea [on offense] — it’s just the final pass that needs to be more accurate.”
The Elis put pressure on Dartmouth and began to transition up the wings instead of through the middle. Although the usually potent Yale center midfielders got bypassed, the offense sprung to life when outside players made runs up the field and crossed the ball to their teammates inside the box.
Guse, who received many of the crosses, racked up a team-high three shots. Even the back line pushed up and got involved in the scoring effort with two shots coming from defenders. Defender Max Rhodes ’09 took control of the wings and was key in moving the ball forward.
“There was space out wide,” Rhodes said. “Dartmouth tries to funnel you inside and keep play in the middle to keep you from getting to a rhythm. That plays to my strengths.”
The Elis were unable to find the back of the net and play settled down on both ends of the pitch. The Big Green’s offense, which suffered a bit in the early minutes of the second period, began attacking later, but to no avail. Geiger was involved in almost every play and the Bulldog defense was solid.
“Sometimes [the defense is] not pretty,” Geiger said. “But they have a will to not let the ball past them.”
The stalemate continued into the first sudden-death overtime. Neither team had a clear advantage and play was fairly even. The Elis got a second wind in the second overtime and kicked up the offensive effort, but again without success.
“In the second OT we decided we were going to win the game,” Rhodes said. “They were on their heels. We just couldn’t punch it through.”
The game seemed destined to end 0-0 until Dartmouth’s Dani Rothenberg got the ball with about 10 seconds left. He drove up the field and took a hard shot from the right side, forcing Geiger to come up with his seventh and final save of the game, with four seconds left on the clock. The nail-biter ended with a couple of goose eggs on the scoreboard.
Though the Bulldogs could not get another point in the W column, they were pleased with the outcome against a tough conference opponent who has been a league leader for the past two years.
“Against a team like Dartmouth, we’ll definitely take it,” Rhodes said. “We would have liked to get a win, but it works.”
The Elis may have suffered from the absence of three starters: defender Markus Jackson ’09, who is out with a shoulder injury, midfielder Alex Afsahi ’09, who is recovering from a knee injury and forward Brad Rose ’11, who had family obligations. But Tompkins said he expects the injured players to return to the field soon.
The Bulldogs will face Army at home, Tuesday at 7 p.m., looking to get a win before continuing their conference schedule.