There wasn’t any bad luck, there weren’t any mental lapses — there were four goals and an overwhelming victory.
The men’s soccer team was all about offensive production at the Baker Field Complex in New York City on Saturday. Yale topped Columbia, 4-1, displaying its ability to come back from behind once again.
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The Bulldogs struggled to keep possession of the ball in the first half, as midfielder Jordan Raybould ’10 said the team needed to do. The squad lacked control in the midfield and allowed the Lions to apply pressure — the home team attacked with five shots in the period.
“Our technical ability definitely wasn’t there,” Raybould said. “Our ideas were good, but we were just mis-hitting passes.”
The Lions pushed through the Eli ranks and scored off a free kick from outside the 18-yard box 15 minutes into the game. The ball got knocked around in front of the goal before Columbia’s Shaun Rowatt directed it into the back of the net to take the lead, 1-0.
But for the fifth game in a row, the Bulldogs rebounded to even the score before the first stanza ran out. Midfielder Andy Shorten ’11 controlled a pass that deflected off him and a defender before drawing out Lion netminder Michael Testa and knocking an easy shot past the defender covering the goal.
“You never want to get behind, but this was a test of character,” head coach Brian Tompkins said. “To come from behind today, they passed with flying colors.”
The Elis began the second half with the score knotted at one, but with a marked improvement in play. The visitors managed 10 shots and racked up three goals in the period.
Raybould’s tiebreaking goal in the 75th minute was a hard shot on the ground from about 20 yards out. Nine minutes later, forward Aden Farina-Henry ’11 received the ball from midfielder Brad Rose ’11 — who blocked a Lion free kick — and knocked the ball beyond Testa’s reach.
Forward Kevin Pope ’10 added an exclamation point to an already decided game with less than three minutes remaining on the clock. Pope dribbled down the side of the field and beat his defender before fooling Testa and launching a shot into the net. Pope now leads the Bulldogs with three goals this season.
“Two freshmen scored and two sophomores scored. That was pleasing to see,” Tompkins said. “Andy’s composure in front of the net was fantastic, and Jordan’s goal was very important. The other two were backbreakers.”
Saturday’s victory was the Bulldogs’ first Ivy win and their highest scoring game so far this year. The visitors saw one of the most drastic changes in play between periods, as Yale scored as many goals in one game as it had in the previous three matches.
In the first half the Elis had trouble setting a rhythm to their game, but after halftime they opened up the field to tire the Lions, Tompkins said. The Bulldogs’ improved play allowed them to get the ball to the now-high-scoring forwards, who put the game away.
“We played two games tonight,” captain and goalkeeper Erik Geiger ’08 said. “In one game we played our worst of the season, and in the other we played our best of the season. In the second [half] we just moved the ball a lot better. We were more deliberate in our buildup. We had more patience and we just picked them apart.”
Yale’s back line blocked two shots and allowed only one shot on goal, beginning the transition of the ball up the field. The defense was able to get the ball up to the center midfielders, Raybould and Eric Meyer ’11, who found the wing players or the two Eli strikers to create an attack on goal.
The match also saw a continued contribution from the freshman class, as two rookies scored and Rose assisted Farina-Henry’s goal.
The Elis still stand at sixth place in the Ancient Eight but will revel in the success they found in the Big Apple.
“I’m really proud of the guys for playing the way we did in the second half after playing the way we did in the first,” Geiger said. “To bounce back like that shows tremendous effort.”