Yale men’s soccer (2–2–0) is looking for revenge this weekend. The team will travel to Teaneck, New Jersey tonight to face Fairleigh Dickinson (3-1-0), who beat Yale by one goal at Reese Stadium last year.
“It was a game we should have won,” said midfielder Charlie Neil ‘12. “Hopefully this year we can go down there and get a win.”
After FDU, the team will face Marist (4–1–1) on Sunday afternoon at home.
Tonight will be the second home game of the season for the Knights. They enter the game with some momentum after beating Princeton by one goal in overtime last Friday. It was the team’s second overtime victory in just four games so far this season. Yale has yet to play in overtime, but head coach Brian Tompkins says the team will be prepared.
“It requires being physically fit, and the endurance to not only get through it but play well,” Tompkins said. “We’re well conditioned enough to handle it.”
A Yale attack that seemed bereft of scorers last year now seems to have a glut of offensive possibilities. The team’s five goals have come from five different players: midfielders Jenner Fox ’14, Neil, Max Morice ’15 and Max McKiernan ’14 and forward Peter Jacobson ’14. Fox was named to Ivy League Honor Roll this Monday for his goal and assist in the Bulldogs’ 3–2 win against Quinnipiac last Friday night.
“It comes from our practices,” Neil said. “They’re really about creating opportunities from anyone at any time … that way teams can’t focus in on one guy or one thing.”
Yale will come home for Sunday’s match-up against Marist. The Red Foxes, like FDU, are also fresh off a victory after beating the New Jersey Institute of Technology two days ago. The last time Yale and Marist met was in 2006, when the Red Foxes visited New Haven for the home-opener, facing a Yale team that was fresh off a shared Ivy League title. The Bulldogs won that match-up 3–0. Tompkins said this year could be more challenging.
“Marist is a good team; they have three or four very good players capable of winning games,” Tompkins said. “We’ll definitely have our hands full with them … I’m confident in our guys, we’ve been playing well at home.”
Neil said the team will look to dictate the pace of Sunday’s game, and prevent the Red Foxes from settling into their defensive style of play.
Yale will have an edge between the goalposts with experienced keeper Bobby Thalman ’12. Thalman leads the Ivy League in saves with 25 – almost twice as many as the second ranked keeper – and also has the highest save percentage, blocking more than 83 percent of shots on goal. That unusually high number of saves isn’t indicative of a broken defense, Tompkins said, but two unusually tough road games against Lehigh – just coming off a win against Stanford – and St. John’s – ranked 25th in the nation.
“I think we all have the confidence that Bobby is likely to get a hand on it,” Neil added. “Being a big guy he can get to some balls that other keepers can’t get to.”
Tompkins said that Thalman has been a key communicator for the defense. His role has taken on additional responsibility now that standout veteran defender Andy Hackbarth ’12 will miss the rest of the season after suffering a preseason shoulder injury.
“Obviously Andy’s a big loss … we’ve tried not to dwell on it, but we’re trying to focus on the guys that are playing,” Tompkins said. “We really haven’t looked at it like it’s a problem. It’s a tactical question that needs to be solved.”
Tonight, the Bulldogs look to capture their first victory away from home at Fairleigh Dickinson at 7 p.m. Neil said this victory will be important for the team’s momentum, after splitting games in each of its last two weekends.
Students can watch the Bulldogs take the field against Marist this Sunday at 1 p.m. at Reese Stadium. Tompkins said the fans played a critical role in last Friday’s last minute win against Quinnipiac.
“They really were tremendous … for them to engage with the team has been a real boost for the players. We hope to see a lot of people out there again on Sunday.”