It was just one of those games for the men’s soccer team.
Despite dominating possession and getting more quality goal-scoring chances than visiting Fairfield (3-3), the Bulldogs (3-3-1, 0-0 Ivy) fell to the Stags 1-0 at Reese Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
In a game that could have gone to either team, Jack Burridge’s redirected header in the 37th minute was the difference-maker for the Stags. The latest loss for Yale comes as yet another frustrating result in what was a very winnable game for the home team.
Once again, Yale’s defense looked strong — minus the brief lapse on the lone goal — while the offense did everything but put the ball in the net, a problem that has plagued the Bulldogs this season in their losses and one tie.
According to head coach Brian Tompkins, breakdowns at specific moments in the game prevented his team’s offense from scoring.
“We possessed the ball a lot today,” Tompkins said. “But at key times, we weren’t precise enough with our passing or our shooting.”
The Elis had three great chances at goal in the second half but were unable to convert. The Stags, on the other hand, capitalized on their only major goal-scoring threat of the game.
For much of the first half, the Bulldogs looked poised to come out on top. They started out aggressively, with the offense putting constant pressure on Fairfield’s defense and preventing the visitors from getting into a rhythm.
As the half progressed, Fairfield settled down and began fighting back. The visitors were able to neutralize Yale’s pressure and find holes in its defense. As they moved the ball forward, they finally began putting pressure on the Bulldog defense.
Yet despite the resurgence of the Stags, the game’s lone goal nonetheless came as a surprise. Burridge snuck in behind the Yale defense and found space to connect on a Tom Clements cross from the left side of the field. Burridge’s header redirected the cross into the right corner of the net. It was just one mistake in an otherwise flawless performance for the defense, but it made all the difference.
“It was a matter of a mark getting away in the box,” captain defender Alex Guzinski ’09 said. “A game like that is just moments, and their moment went in.”
Although the goal subsequently energized the visitors, it was the Elis who responded positively to their deficit in the second half, with a string of good scoring chances. About 10 minutes into the half, a creative through ball from John Carlos ’10 gave Sam Post ’09 a one-on-one with Fairfield goalie Justin Burse. Post skillfully dribbled past the keeper but was unable to get a shot off before the ball slipped out of bounds.
Carlos was inches away from equalizing in the 60th minute off of a through ball on the right wing from Justin Song ’10, but his shot barely missed the upper right corner of the net.
Six minutes later, Post once again created trouble for the Stag defense, as he found Kevin Pope ’10 in front of the goal for an open shot. The attempt once again went wide, as the ball rolled dangerously past the left post.
From then on, it seemed as if the Bulldogs had passed their prime. Players seemed frustrated and, despite the aggressive pressure they put on Fairfield, were unable to find the equalizer.
“After our three really good chances, we sort of started to lose control,” Post said. “We needed a little more poise.”
The team now looks ahead to its upcoming contest at Army at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The Elis realize that changes must be made, yet also know that the Fairfield game will remembered as one that got away.
“We have to figure out what the problem is and fix it,” Guzinksi said.
“Later on in the season, we’re just gonna want that one back.”