It may go down on paper as another overtime loss for the men’s soccer team, but Yale’s 2–1 overtime loss to No. 12 St. John’s Tuesday night at Reese Stadium leaves the Bulldogs (1–8–1) optimistic heading into the start of the Ivy League season.
Midfielder Andy Hackbarth ’12 gave the home team the first-half lead on a penalty kick but the Elis were unable to hold the Red Storm (7–3–1) at bay, conceding goals in the second-half and in the first minute of overtime in a match that could have gone either way.
“This was anybody’s game to win,” head coach Brian Tompkins said. “We really showed a collective approach to the game, and our concentration was outstanding. The [players] worked really hard and it is tough to leave this game with a loss.”
The Red Storm outshot the home team by a margin of 16–9.
Goalkeeper Bobby Thalman ’13 made seven saves in the Eli effort, while St. John’s Raphael Diaz had three stops in net for the away squad.
“St. John’s is one of the top seeds in the nation right now, and despite the loss we played very well against them,” Hackbarth said. “We had a good response from every one of our guys; each one played their hearts out.”
Play was even in the first half as both teams created opportunities. With six shots on goal in the first half, the Elis had to wait until the 36th minute to put one away. After a Red Storm foul in the box, Hackbarth took full advantage of the penalty kick to put the Bulldogs up 1–0. The home team was able to hold on to the lead and enter halftime with the upper hand, thanks in large part to Thalman. The Red Storm came dangerously close to tying the game in the 43rd minute when Andres Vargas found Omar Edwards alone in front of the Yale net but Thalman made a diving save. The Bulldogs struck back with a close opportunity by forward Max McKiernan ’14 in the last minute of play but the freshman was shut down by Diaz.
“On the score sheet they might have more corner kicks or shots but in terms of quality opportunities it was fairly even and I think we even had the best chance of the game,” captain and midfielder Andy Shorten ’11 said, referring to McKiernan’s attempt. “We could have gone up 2–0 and put the game away before halftime but their goalie made a good save. We just didn’t have enough.”
Faced with five Red Storm corner kicks within the first 20 minutes of the second half, The Bulldogs held strong on the first four of St. John’s corner kick attempts in the first 20 minutes of the second half but were unable to deny the Red Storm on their fifth. Sverre Wegge Gundhus found Pablo Battuto Punyed open at the top of the box, allowing the midfielder to bang the ball past Thalman to tie things up at one.
The Elis came close to winning back the lead with five minutes remaining in regulation time when a corner kick from midfielder Jenner Fox ’14 connected with forward Cody Wilkins ’14, whose header went just high.
It took less than a minute into overtime for the Red Storm to find the game-winner. Just 43 seconds into the first 10-minute overtime period, Jimmy Mulligan took a corner kick for the Red Storm but the Bulldogs got unlucky once again as one of their players deflected the kick into his own goal to end the game.
Despite the unlucky end to the match, Eli players are drawing positives from the way the team stuck with a national powerhouse.
“With the way we played tonight, I think we are definitely ready for the Ivy League,” Hackbarth said. “Every game is always a battle but the way that we responded tonight against such a tough opponent showed that we are ready. We just need to make sure to keep our heads up and keep playing.”
The Elis will look to put this loss behind them as they begin Ivy League play Saturday in Cambridge, Mass., against Harvard in a 1:30 p.m. matchup.