The Yale men’s soccer team played England’s Oxford University for the first time in 25 years at home Sunday but lost 3–1 in the friendly.
The game was the first match of the spring for the Bulldogs, who ended their first winning season in six years this past November with an 8–7–2 record. Although the game was a scrimmage that did not count towards the team’s standings, the match-up gave Yale a chance to work on tactics and ball possession in a competition setting, head coach Brian Tompkins said.
“[The team] made some mistakes and [Oxford] made a good job of punishing those mistakes,” Tompkins said. “[I’m] pleased with a lot of the play and thought they passed the ball well.”
Yale started the first half of the game strong and gained a 1–0 lead with a goal by Scott Armbrust ’13. Yale’s energy was high, and goalkeeper and captain Bobby Thalman ’13 made several saves. Oxford’s coach Mike Cave told the News at half-time that Oxford’s concentration “slipped for a bit.”
In the second half, Yale’s energy took a toll. Although Yale made several attempts on goal, none went in, while Oxford managed to score three goals. Oxford captain Julian Austin said the Blues “kept possession well” and “got better as the game went on.”
Tompkins said the game was an “experimental process.”
The coaches for both teams accounted for the fact that Oxford is at the end of its season, while Yale is just beginning its spring training. Tompkins said he could tell Oxford had been playing a lot, whereas Yale was not as fit.
“We aren’t in the condition we’d hoped we’d be,” Tompkins said. “Hopefully we’ll fix things up before we have to play the Ivies.”
Thalman said the three goals in the second half “came off our own errors” and are “easier to fix” than if they weren’t. For spring training he hopes to “work on our possession, be sharper midfield, and create goals through a combination plan.” As well as tactics, the team will work on being “calmer and more controlled.”
Oxford is on a tour of the United States and will be playing Princeton, Columbia, Rutgers and the New York Athletic Club in the coming weeks. Oxford tied 1–1 with Harvard last Saturday.
“Harvard was great but Yale passed a lot more.” Austin said.