PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The men’s soccer team finally got it right.
After close losses to Ivy League powerhouses Harvard, Penn and Dartmouth, the Bulldogs (7-7-2, 3-3-0 Ivy) defeated defending Ivy League Champions Brown (9-6-1, 3-3-0), 2-0, on the Bears’ Senior Day here in Providence on Saturday.
Despite getting outshot 16-7 by the Bears, the away squad made the best of their scoring opportunities. Forward Aden-Farina Henry ’11 and midfielder Sam Post ’09 provided the offense for the away squad. After missing much of the first half of the season, this is Farina-Henry’s third goal in the last two games.
It may not have been their most dominant performance of the season, but as the Bulldogs have learned so far this year, dominating play does not always result in victory.
“This is probably the best result in my two years,” said midfielder Eric Meyer ’11. “We managed to find a way to grind out and find a win. The soccer wasn’t pretty at all times. When you’re away on an Ivy League game, it’s not about playing pretty soccer, it’s about finding a way to win.”
Goalkeeper Travis Chulick ’10 made four saves in the effort, on the way to his seventh shutout of the season. The Bulldogs are conceding less than one goal per game, on average.
The Bears dominated shots 8-3 in the first half, but could not find the net and only forced Chulick into two saves. As the half progressed, though, the Bulldogs began pushing forward and were rewarded in the 39th minute on a somewhat controversial goal from Farina-Henry.
Brown players thought the ball had deflected off midfielder Jon Carlos ’10, but the linesman instead gave the throw-in to the Elis. Carlos found an open Farina-Henry, who cleverly let the ball go through his legs in order to fool a Bear defender before beating Brown goalie Jarrett Leech with a left-footed strike.
Farina-Henry almost doubled his tally about a minute later after having beaten Brown’s offside trap, but his shot sailed just over the net.
The Bulldogs retained their momentum after the restart and doubled their lead in just 68 seconds. Post curled the ball around Brown’s wall and into the net on a close-range free kick. This was Post’s first official career goal for Yale. After initially being credited with a goal against Columbia, the goal was later attributed to Farina-Henry.
According to head coach Brian Tompkins, Post’s free kick was simply a matter of applying practice to a game situation.
“We have four guys who take free kicks,” Tompkins said. “They practice those — it’s part of their weekly routine. It was in a perfect spot for Sam. He put it just right. It was on the right side, he bent it with his left foot.”
The Bears almost got the goal back two minutes later, and once again on a questionable call. Chulick was called for pushing in the penalty box, but Brown defender Rhett Bernstein’s penalty kick sailed over the goal.
The Bears continued to put pressure on the away squad and bring men forward in search of a goal, but were once again unable to force Chulick into many saves.
According to defender Jordan Raybould ’10, the Bulldogs foiled Brown’s dynamic attack with an organized, prudent defense.
“We just stayed tight in the back, didn’t make many mistakes,” he said. “We made good clearances when we had to and had good team defense to match their intensity.”
Although the team conscientiously played more reservedly in the second half, they weren’t about to completely abandon their style of play.
“After 2-0, we played a little more conservative,” captain and defender Alex Guzinski ’09 said. “With a two-goal lead, you’re not looking to score more goals. But generally speaking, we played the same style. We played smart soccer after that, possessing the ball when we could, and when we couldn’t, we played it over. Smart soccer won the game for us.”
Prior to the match, Tompkins warned his team about Brown’s aggressiveness. He especially advised Meyer, the team’s playmaker and point leader, to use it to his advantage.
“Coach told me to be relaxed and calm with the ball,” Meyer said. “He told me, ‘This is a game where they’ll come flying in at you, but don’t get rattled, cut at them, and then you’ll have more time than you think.’ ”
Meyer also noted that the team exploited Brown’s over-aggressiveness by switching the field. Knowing that the home squad would keep up heightened pressure, the Bulldogs used quick passing to escape Brown’s defense and attack the other side of the field, where there were fewer Bears.
Players acknowledged the importance of this win, especially considering Yale’s disappointing one-goal losses against the three top teams in the Ivy League.
“It makes a statement,” Guzinski said. “There were a couple of games that could have gone the other way, and unfortunately they didn’t. This is definitely a game that we can look at the end result and be proud of the way we played.”
The Bulldogs end their season this Saturday when they welcome Princeton (5-9-2, 2-2-2) to Reese Stadium at 4 p.m.