Often isolated and sometimes inactive, it’s easy to overlook a goalie. But when it comes to the Yale men’s soccer team, Travis Chulick ’10 might just be the saving grace.
Now in his third season with the Bulldogs (4-4-1, 0-1-0 Ivy), Chulick has this year established himself as an exceptional keeper. Last Saturday he stopped six balls at Harvard in a 1-0 loss.
After two years without much on-field experience, the transition has not always been perfect, and head coach Brian Tompkins said he in many ways considers this to be Chulick’s rookie season. But hard work has helped the new starter adjust, and the results have been striking. After giving up five goals in the team’s first three games, Chulick has let in only three balls in the last six contests, a stretch where Yale has gone 3-1-1.
“Travis [is] very diligent about coming out to practice early to do intensive goalkeeper-related training with [assistant] coach Kostelis,” Tompkins said. “Travis wants to constantly improve the quality of the work he does.”
But at some point, despite his laborious training, Chulick must be able to rely on his reflexes and intuition in high-pressure situations during the game. Tompkins said Chulick has no problem being vocal on the back line, directing his teammates and coordinating the defense to anticipate potentially dangerous situations.
“My favorite part of being a goalie is just being on the field,” Chulick said in a phone interview this week. “I like the game and being out there with the guys. In the winter we have open gym kick-arounds and [I play offense]. The guys hate it if I’m fortunate enough to score,” he laughed.
Chulick’s vibrant off-field personality seems to be a bonus that comes with his on-field talent.
“In addition to his leadership, he definitely loosens [the team] up with his humor, his attitude, and his personality,” forward Charlie Paris ’12 said. “He makes practice seem more like we’re hanging out.”
That laid-back personality contributes to a team atmosphere that Chulick insisted is more cohesive and positive than in years past. The team takes classes together, eats together and hangs out together, keeping everyone on the same page, he said.
The Elis sit at an even .500 this season and are heading into a treacherous stretch against several of the Ivy League’s favorites. Next on tap is a trip to Dartmouth (5-3-1, 0-0-1), a team that already beat then-No. 3 Indiana in early September.
A win against the Big Green could get the Bulldogs back on track. With a great defense and a solid offense, what has held the team back from the success they’ve worked for?
“Just tough breaks,” Chulick said. “The guys are out there working hard and sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way.”
Chulick remains optimistic, though, that the team’s practice will pay off in this weekend’s game against Dartmouth.
“We have all the right components,” Chulick said of his teammates. “We’ve got guys that can score goals and we’ve got guys that can play defense really well. We just need a couple more things to go our way — it’s always great to get a road victory. … Hopefully we can go up to New Hampshire and steal a win.”