This time, the men’s soccer team did not seem fazed, even after conceding the first goal at home.
The Bulldogs (6-7-2, 2-3 Ivy) bounced back with three straight goals in the first half on their way to a comfortable 4-2 victory against Columbia (3-11-1) on Saturday at Reese Stadium.
Midfielder Kevin Pope ’10 led Yale’s offensive resurgence with a goal and an assist. Midfielder Andy Hackbarth ’12 scored his second goal in as many games, while forward Aden Farina-Henry ’11 and midfielder Sam Post ’09 both notched their first goals of the season.
From the first whistle, the Bulldogs looked confident in taking on Columbia defenders and using their speed and ball skills to get past them. Within the first ten minutes, runs by forward Andy Shorten ’11, midfielder Jon Carlos ’10 and Pope set the tone for the rest of the game, although none of their crossing attempts resulted in goals.
According to Shorten, the Elis were encouraged to challenge the Lion defenders based on game footage of Columbia.
“We watched some game film and knew their defense was pretty slow, so Coach [Brian] Tompkins gave us the go-ahead to run at them.” Shorten said. “We had the confidence in us to run at them, to get the ball, turn, square up at them and beat them. We used our speed and played aggressive soccer.”
Despite the early offensive opportunities, the visitors broke first blood. Michael Mazzullo quieted the crowd in the 11th minute when he headed in a long free kick from Pepe Carotenuto.
The home squad did not panic and responded well to the early letdown, after their frustration with conceding a goal after dominating the early portion of the match,.
“Our response to the goal was outstanding,” Tompkins said. “They didn’t let the goal get us away from our game plan.”
After Columbia keeper Alex Aurrichio’s kick save from close range prevented Farina-Henry from giving his team the equalizer off a great through ball from Shorten in the 20th minute, his counterpart Travis Chulick ’10 kept the Elis from going down by another goal two minutes later.
Columbia forward Felipe Castrillon found himself alone on the right side with an open net in front of him but was denied by a dazzling hockey-like save by the junior keeper, who dove to his left to cover the open goal.
The Bulldogs finally found the equalizer in the 28th minute as defender Jordan Raybould ’10 got an assist on a precise free kick for the second straight game. After Raybould’s long ball went over the head of a Columbia defender, Farina-Henry controlled the ball with his chest and blasted a shot into the upper right corner.
By the time the home crowd had quieted down, they already had more to cheer for. After Pope once again got by his defender, Hackbarth picked up the ball outside the box and rocketed a shot into the lower left corner of the goal about a minute later.
Post kept the ball rolling for the Elis ten minutes later as he was credited with his first career goal for Yale. Although Post had the shot on goal, the ball was deflected on its way into the net. The senior midfielder admitted that while the goal was given to him, Farina-Henry touched the ball and may have deserved the goal.
Yale’s last two goals of the first half were a testament to the team’s depth, as both Farina-Henry and Post started the game as substitutes. Midfielder Tyler Guse ’09 also had quality time off the bench, as his quick dribbling gave the Lions trouble before he came off the field with an injury in the second half. According to captain and defender Alex Guzinski’ 09, the team has been deep since day one this season.
“It’s something that was evident from the beginning,” he said. “We have more than 11 guys who can play and impact the game. … We definitely got a lot of value off the bench and that’s something that you hope for every game.”
Columbia got a goal back in the final minute of first half play, once again off a set play. Carotenuto avoided Yale’s wall and slotted a free kick into the lower right corner of the goal.
The Bulldogs played more reserved in the second half. Despite a period in which the visitors put pressure on Yale’s defense, they were still able to get an insurance goal on a great individual effort from Pope in the 71st minute.
Although the score remained close for much of the game, the Bulldogs dominated play. Despite threatening opportunities from Columbia forward Bayo Adafin, the Lions scored both goals on set pieces and were unable to control the run of play.
“Even in the moments when we weren’t our best, we still had pretty good control of the game,” Post said.
The win now gives the Bulldogs some momentum going into a tough away contest against Brown next Saturday at 4:30 p.m. If they win their final two Ivy League match-ups, they will finish the season with a winning record both overall and in the conference.