The men’s soccer team will travel to Philadelphia on Saturday to face Penn (6–5–2, 1–2 Ivy) in an Ivy League matchup that will have large implications for whether either team will be a serious title contender.
Since both teams are still in the hunt for a strong Ivy finish, with Yale (6–5–2, 2–1) in a four-way tie for second, head coach Brian Tompkins said that the game will be highly competitive.
“There is a lot at stake for both teams,” Tompkins said. “I think you are going to see a lot of highly motivated play from both teams. … If we get ourselves a win down there it would keep us in contention for the Ivy League championship.”
Bulldog players said the trip could prove to be one of their most difficult trips of the season, as Tompkins and two players emphasized the unique environment created by Penn’s Rhodes Field.
“[Rhodes Field] is unusual,” Tompkins said. “It is sandwiched between a freeway, a river and a railway.”
The noise from Highway 76, the Schuylkill River and 30th Street Railway station will be combined with the crowd that goalkeeper Bobby Thalman ’13 said Penn attracts to its home games.
Midfielder and captain Chris Dennen ’12 added that another unique feature of the field at Penn is that it is grass, whereas Yale plays most of its games on turf.
Tompkins and the players stressed that they will not be changing their strategy for the game, however. Thalman and Tompkins said that the team is balanced, so that they do not have to work on one particular aspect of the game.
“The nice thing is that we don’t have any glaring weaknesses,” said Thalman. “A number of people are scoring and our defense is solid. We are just working on little things to help us get better.” Thalman said, however, that since Penn has a strong midfield that wins a lot of balls, the defense will have to make sure to stay in front of the Quaker attack.
With both teams entering the game with identical overall records, this game begins a stretch of four Ivy League games to finish out Yale’s regular season. Dennen and Tompkins said that a victory at Penn would put the Elis in contention for the Ivy League championship. After losing at home to Cornell last Saturday, Thalman added that the team views this game as a “must-win.”
Tompkin and the two players all noted that the match against the Quakers will be close. Thalman and Tompkins added that the Quakers have a playing style similar to the Elis’. As an Ivy League match, they all acknowledged that this game will be played more physically.
The Elis play three of their remaining four regular-season games away, with the only remaining home game Nov. 5 at 5:30 p.m. against the Brown Bears.