The men’s soccer team went 1–1 for the second time in as many weekends, but this time, the Bulldogs showed greater resiliency.
The Elis held off a feisty Quinnipiac rally Friday night, coming out with a 3–2 victory. On Sunday, Yale stayed within one goal of a heavily favored No. 25 St. John’s squad, but ultimately lost 2–0 in the final two minutes.
Quinnipiac took the lead early in Friday night’s matchup, scoring a goal in the first half. But Yale would storm back early in the second, scoring two goals in less than five minutes. Jenner Fox ’14 made the first goal and assisted on the second, putting the ball in exactly the right place for a Peter Jacobson ’14 header. It was at that moment that goalie Bobby Thalman ’12 knew this year’s team had become more aggressive on offense than last year’s squad.
“We didn’t want to go back there,” Thalman said. “We’re willing to fight for every goal.”
From there, it seemed like the Elis had the game in the bag, but Quinnipiac tied up the game, 2–2, with a 25-yard bullet into the top of the net from forward Philip Suprise, just five minutes from the end of the match.
“That’s definitely on me,” Thalman said. “[A] savable ball, nothing too spectacular, I’ll definitely make that save next time.”
Rather than settle for the tie, midfielder Charlie Neil ’12 scored a few minutes later off an assist from midfielder Kevin Michalak ’15, when his shot bounced off a Quinnipiac defender and trickled into the back of the Bobcats’ net.
“Kevin Michalak played a real nice ball in,” Neil said. “It happened to land in a good spot.”
Sunday’s matchup against St. John’s saw far fewer Yale opportunities at the net. The Red Storm outshot the Elis 22-5, posting 11 total shots on goal. Bobby Thalman ’12, however, was a formidable presence in the net, recording nine saves and keeping the score within one goal for 88 minutes.
“Bobby had an awesome game,” Neil said. “He kept us in the game, he had a bunch of key saves. He gave us opportunities to get back in it.”
St. John’s entered the weekend ranked 25th in the nation, and the Bulldogs played them in a tough environment. Belson Stadium, home of the Red Storm, has had an average attendance of over 1,300 people for the last two seasons; by comparison, a little more than 600 showed up to Friday night’s game against Quinnipiac at Reese Stadium. Moreover, St. John’s has had a home win percentage of just under 80 percent over the last nine years.
“We knew what to expect, it was going to be a hostile environment,” Neil said. “They had a bunch of fans behind the goal, and it was difficult to hear at times. … [W]e don’t let that affect us too much.”
After losing to Maryland, the Red Storm has rattled off four victories, all of them shutouts. The first was against a No. 8-ranked William and Mary; this weekend the Storm added Harvard and Yale to the list, defeating both Ivy League opponents 2–0. The Bulldogs did better than the Crimson, however, forcing the Red Storm’s goalie to block at least two shots on goal — Harvard had zero, as did Boston University.
“[St. John’s is] a quick team, their defense was really able to handle our attack and transition against us really well,” Neil said.
The Yale team won’t face such stiff competition this weekend, as the players travel to Fairleigh Dickinson, then return home to play Marist. The Bulldogs lost to Farleigh Dickinson at home last season, 1–0.
“We definitely proved to ourselves we can put the ball in the back in the net against Quinnipiac,” Thalman said. “We want some revenge from last year on some of these teams.”
Kickoff against Farleigh Dickinson is slated for Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. against Marist.