The men’s soccer team found itself in the familiar position of searching for a goal toward the end of the game — this time, with better results.
After being shut out twice in their last three games, the Bulldogs (4-3-1) defeated Army (1-7), 1-0, in second overtime last night at West Point, N.Y., in what was a physically intense contest.
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Midfielder Eric Meyer ’11 was the hero of the evening, scoring just over a minute into the second overtime period. Kevin Pope ’10 and Liam Leonard ’09 combined on the right side of the field off a counter-attack, with Leonard eventually finding space and playing a ball into the box. According to Meyer, Jon Carlos ’10 intentionally let the ball roll between his legs in order to fool the Army defender, creating space for Meyer to slot the ball past the home team’s goalie, A.J. Glubzkinski. This was Meyer’s first game after a two-game hiatus due to a hip injury.
The teams combined for a total of 43 fouls, 30 of them committed by the home team. There were also an astounding 10 yellow cards and a red-card ejection for Yale head coach Brian Tompkins near the end of regulation. In reference to the ejection, Tompkins said his main duty was to protect the safety of his players.
“It was a physical game with lots of fouls,” he said. “I commented to the referee about wanting him to protect our players. He took offense at something I had said and gave me a yellow card, then gave me another yellow after taking offense to another comment I had made.”
Ironically, he was not on the sideline when the final whistle closed out his 200th career victory.
According to Meyer, the high number of fouls, especially from the Black Knights, disrupted Yale’s offensive game plan of possessing the ball.
“[Army] played very aggressively and came after us,” he said. “The referee called a tight game. We couldn’t possess as much as we would have liked to. [The frequent fouls] also chopped up the game.”
But according to captain and defender Alex Guzinski ’09, the physical nature of the match was also beneficial because it prepared the Bulldogs for potentially similar contests later on in the season.
“The fact that we were able to win this game is something to be proud of,” he said. “We hadn’t played a team that’s been this physical. It’s good preparation for the Ivy League season.”
Despite outshooting their opponents 8-6 during regulation time, the Bulldogs found themselves frustrated by their inability to convert possession into goals and found themselves in overtime for the second time this season.
“We were pretty frustrated that we were still tied,” Meyer said. “But we knew we had 20 minutes of overtime. We knew someone had to step up.”
Although Tompkins was not on the team’s bench during the overtime periods, he said both the players and assistant coaches knew what needed to be done at that stage in the game.
The win gives the Bulldogs momentum going into Ivy League play, which looks to be very competitive this year. Despite Yale’s victories in its last two away games, Tompkins noted his team would face a difficult start to conference play away from Reese Stadium.
“We have a tough start with both Harvard and Dartmouth on the road,” he said. “We’re going to have to defend well and be opportunistic on offense.”
Yale’s first Ancient Eight matchup is Saturday, when it faces the Crimson at 2 p.m. in Cambridge, Mass.