As the men’s soccer team ran sprints in the heat of its summer pre-season, players had a poignant memory to drive them forward.

According to midfielder Jordan Raybould ’10, the memory of their 4-0 defeat at home to archrival Harvard in the last game of the season pushed players to work their hardest in preparation for the upcoming season.

This Saturday, the Bulldogs (4-3-1, 0-0 Ivy) will find out whether their hard work has paid off, as they face the Crimson (3-3, 0-0 Ivy) in Cambridge at 2 p.m.

With both teams sitting near the middle of the Ivy League standings through their non-conference schedule, a victory for either team will give them a leg-up in what looks to be a very competitive conference this year. Regardless of prior non-conference records, the Ivy League gives “everyone a clean slate” according to Raybould, especially since the Ivy League champion gets an automatic birth to the NCAA tournament.

Despite Yale’s convincing loss to the Crimson last year, players stressed that this year’s new team changes everything.

“We’re a completely different team this year,” Raybould said. “We’re deeper, more well-rounded.”

Based on recent games, the Bulldogs look poised to improve from last season’s performance against their rival. The Elis have only lost once in their last five games and have won their last two games on the road.

Yet as players from both teams surely know, the Ivy League matchups — especially Harvard versus Yale — are a completely different story. When players take the field, both teams’ non-conference records, and even the outcome of last year, will be irrelevant.