The men’s soccer team’s mission to finish its season with a win didn’t come to fruition, as the Bulldogs (5–9–3, 2–5 Ivy) were unable to stop to Princeton’s Antoine Hoppenot in their 4–0 loss to the Tigers (9–5–3, 4–2–1) on Friday night.
Hoppenot scored the first three goals of the game, two of which were in the first half.
“The first two goals came off of mistakes we made on offense that led to counter-attack goals,” head coach Brian Tompkins said. “They definitely were preventable.”
Tompkins added, “It was one of those days where our mistakes were capitalized on very quickly by a very good team.”
Hoppenot’s first goal came when he drove he ball the into the right side of the net after taking a cross from the left side of the field at 13:32. His second goal 20 minutes later was a solo effort from the midfield. Hoppenot penetrated Yale’s defense and kicked the ball into the left side of the goal at 34:16.
The Bulldogs tried to make some adjustments in the second half to get back in the game, Tompkins said.
“We were a little bit hasty with our passing in the first half,” he said. “We talked [at halftime] about doing a better job keeping the ball. It was more a change in mentality than a tactical change.”
Unfortunately, the Elis still could not stop Hoppenot.
The sophomore midfielder’s third goal at 52:51 was a rebound off a Matt Sanner shot that hit the cross bar. Tim Sedwitz scored the final goal of the game with two and a half minutes left by driving in a straight shot from the top of the 18-yard box.
Friday night’s shut-out was a disappointing way to end a season coach Tompkins has called a learning experience.
“Obviously it was disappointing,” forward Brad Rose ’11 said. “We were looking to end on a good note, and we came out flat and were outworked. We gave the ball away cheaply and didn’t play our game, and it came back to haunt us.”
A crowd of 803 spectators and the fact that the game was broadcast on the Fox Soccer Channel may have hindered the Bulldogs, according to captain and defender Jordan Raybould ’10.
“We didn’t show up to play,” Raybould said. “Maybe it was nervousness, the spectacle of it scared everyone. We just didn’t really fight like we usually do and fight like we can.”
However, Chulick admitted that Princeton’s offense was able to take advantage of the Eli defense Friday night.
Offensively, the Bulldogs struggled with their ball-handling, which made it difficult to retain possession.
“We struggled to create good scoring chances,” Tompkins said. “We didn’t pass the ball particularly well, and weren’t able to keep the possession of the ball in the attacking half of the field, and that limited the amount of good scoring opportunities that we had.”
Chris Dennen ’12 added that giving the ball away on offense left the team out of position on defense.
Statistics prove the lack of offensive opportunities created by the Bulldogs — Yale only had two shots on goal compared to Princeton’s seven in the first half, while in the second half the Eli’s had six to Princeton’s 10. Princeton’s more than double shots on goal left Travis Chulick with five saves throughout the night, compared to the three of Princeton’s Sean Lynch.
“Top to bottom they were just better than us,” Chulick said. “They came to play, they were really excited, we were unable to match their intensity.”
Friday night’s loss marks a disappointing end to a roller-coaster season for the Elis.
“I think it’s been a season of ups and downs,” Tompkins said. “I think it’s been one where we’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons, some of them the hard way, but there’s talent in the squad, I think there’s certainly the potential to get better, and I think we have every reason to be optimistic having had this experience that we’ll be a better team next year.”