By now, the men’s soccer team is well aware that it only takes a split second to decide an entire game.
The Bulldogs (4-5-1, 0-2 Ivy) fell to Dartmouth (6-3-1, 1-0-1) on Saturday night by the slimmest of margins, 1-0, for their third loss in the last four games. For the second straight Ivy League matchup, a redirected free kick was the difference maker. This time, it was Big Green senior forward Craig Henderson’s diving header in the 75th minute that handed his team the victory.
As in last weekend’s game against Harvard, the Bulldogs were eventually punished for committing fouls close to their own goal. Center midfielder Jordan Raybould ’10 acknowledged that free kicks give the other team a free shot on goal and that given enough opportunities one would find the back of the net.
Raybould cited a lack of patience on defense as the main cause for his team’s recent propensity to concede fouls near its own goal.
“It’s not that the team is doing poorly in defending free kicks, it’s just that we’ve been giving too many up,” he said. “Everyone has got to be patient on defense, not ball watch, and not dive in. When you dive in, you commit fouls.”
The Bulldogs were out-shot by the Big Green 12-6 and only forced Dartmouth keeper Sean Milligan into one save. On the other end of the field, Yale keeper Travis Chulick ’10 made five stops for the Bulldogs — Chulick is second in the Ivy League with a .839 save percentage.
Yet, according to center midfielder Eric Meyer ’11, the team was simply unable to capitalize on offensive opportunities despite good possession and ball movement.
“We were able to get the ball through the midfield a lot and find the forwards, which is something we had been struggling to do in previous games, such as against Harvard,” Meyer said. “Our impact players just need to step up and get the ball in the net. Our defense has been doing a great job, but we’ve only scored one goal in the past four games.”
Yale’s only shot on goal came in the 33rd minute through a Brad Rose ’11 strike, although forward Aden Farina-Henry ’11 had a good attempt blocked in the 82nd minute.
According to head coach Brian Tompkins, Dartmouth’s defensive stinginess made Yale’s mistakes on offense all the more costly.
“We had a couple of chances where [the mistakes] came down to concentration or technique,” Tompkins said. “There were other moments where it came down to a lack of composure. Against a good defensive team, you don’t get many opportunities. When you get these moments, you’ve got to execute.”
Yale players knew that the Big Green had been dangerous on corners and free kicks so far this season, Meyer said.
Yet they were unable to stop Henderson from finding the back of the net. Following a foul right outside the penalty box on the left side of the field, midfielder Andrew Olsen sent a driven shot from about 30 yards out. Although the ball might have gone in without the deflection, Henderson’s diving header off the far post ensured that the ball found the net to give the Big Green a 1-0 lead they would keep until the final whistle.
Players acknowledged that the well-played loss left them with a bittersweet feeling.
“We’re just generally frustrated,” captain and defender Alex Guzinski ’09 said. “It was one of the better games we’ve played this season. It’s frustrating to give up a goal on one moment. We have to start making the best of our moments.”
The Bulldogs welcome Big East powerhouse Boston College to Reese Stadium at 7 p.m. tonight. The Elis held the Eagles to a scoreless tie last season in what Raybould described as one of the team’s best games last year.