After closing out a successful preseason on Monday with a 4–0 win against Glastonbury Celtic, the men’s soccer team will kick off its regular season with a match against Central Connecticut State University today.
The team has been training hard during its preseason, which began Aug. 17, and captain and goalkeeper Bobby Thalman ’13 said the Bulldogs are ready to jump into the regular season with a debut match against the Blue Devils.
“We feel very prepared and are excited about tomorrow’s match,” Thalman said. “Last season was a big improvement and was a step to the right position.”
Last season, Yale rebounded from a rough 2010 run and managed to pull off a winning record, 8–7–2, including a 2–0 shutout victory against the Blue Devils.
“The team’s goal for this season is to win the league and try to make a run in the NCAA tournament,” midfielder Max Mckiernan ’14 said. “It will also be a team fun to watch.”
The team started to play in a more possession-oriented way last year, and has continued to build on that into the preseason.
Despite Yale’s rout of CCSU last year, Thalman said the Blue Devils are known to field skilled players with considerable speed, and should not be taken lightly.
He added that the Elis have been working together effectively on offense and pressuring the opponent as a strong unit on both offense and defense. This year, the Bulldogs have increased practice time to two hours a day and gained six freshmen to fill in spots from the eight seniors who graduated.
“Our offense this year should be lethal. We are returning a lot of talent and experience up front,” Mckiernan said.
Mckiernan added the freshmen players have done well so far adapting to the speed and intensity of the college game.
“Our coaching staff changed our style of play and moved some players into some different positions,” defender Milan Tica ’13 said. “I think the biggest improvement is just more experience in that style of play.”
The offense and midfield defend as much as the defenders, Tica added.
The Bulldogs hope that their enhanced strategy can help them gain a repeat of last year’s performance against the Blue Devils on Friday.
The two players responsible for the previous win, with a goal apiece, were last season’s honorable mention All-Ivy winner midfielder Max Mckiernan ’14 and midfielder Max Morice ’15. Morice, who signed to play for Stade Rennes in France earlier this summer, will not be returning to the lineup or to Yale this year.
In that game, Yale outdid CCSU in shots (16–12) and controlled the flow of the game for much of the match, despite committing nine more fouls (21–12). Thalman also contributed to the victory with five stunning saves.
Despite losing some important members this year, CCSU nevertheless still maintains some dangerous players in its arsenal, Thalman said. Forward Reece Wilson was responsible for scoring one-fourth of the Blue Devils’ 24 goals recorded during last season, along with three assists. Another forward to keep an eye on is Eddy Bogle, who had five goals to his name last year. Most notably, CCSU demonstrated greater strength in games played in its home turf this season, and the Bulldogs will face them in New Britain, Conn.
On Yale’s end, midfielder Peter Jacobson ’14 recorded seven goals last season and earned an honorable mention for the All-Ivy team. On defense, the Bulldogs retain the ever-reliable Nick Alers ’14. Last season, he anchored the defense core, which let up only 16 goals and earned four shutouts. Algers was first team All-Ivy and an NSCAA All-Northeast Region third team.
Between the posts, Thalman earned second team All-Ivy last season with 92 saves overall and a 0.852 save percentage.
Thalman said the team is ready to play its own game and is optimistic in general about the upcoming season.
“Some players are battling with injuries, but I believe it should not be a much of a problem,” he said.
The Bulldogs will take on the Blue Devils today at 7 p.m. at CCSU’s new soccer field.