Looking to capture its first league win of the season, the men’s soccer team will travel to Hanover this Saturday to take on defending Ivy League champion Dartmouth.
Despite the strength of last year’s Dartmouth team, the Elis recorded one of their best performances of that season in a 2–0 win against the Big Green.
“Last year against Dartmouth we played one of our most complete games,” defender Nick Alers ’14 said. “They ended up winning the league, and we beat them pretty soundly.”
In the win, much of Yale’s game plan revolved around limiting the touches of former Dartmouth forward Lucky Mkosana, who was drafted into the MLS in January. Alers helped anchor the Eli defense, playing a key role in last year’s match-up.
“He had an exceptional game,” forward Scott Armbrust ’14 said, noting that Alers’ play factored strongly in containing Mkosana. “Being strong defensively was definitely what helped win the game last year.”
Because of Mkosana’s departure, the Big Green will present new challenges for the Bulldogs. Even without the star forward, Dartmouth has scored 13 goals in its nine games and has been shut out only once. Alers said the Elis are aware of the need to adjust.“They’re definitely going to be a different team than last year,” Alers said. “They still have a lot of talent [and] they’ll maybe have a little bit more balanced of an attack without [Mkosana], but they can be just as dangerous.”
Performing well on the defensive end has not been a problem for the team this year. The Bulldogs have allowed less than a goal a game so far this season and have given up only four goals in their last eight games.
In limiting the Big Green on the defensive end last year, the Bulldogs were able to manufacture scoring chances that led to two goals. Alers said that the Bulldogs will attempt to perform similarly on offense this year, noting that the team was able to score because of its ability to possess the ball, move the ball out wide and serve crosses toward the middle created the two goals last season.
This year, however, the Elis have had a difficult time on the offensive end. While the team has had its share of chances, it has struggled to convert them into goals, scoring only five in their ten games.
Both Alers and Armbrust said that the team has focused on improving the offense during practice this week.
“We just need to really be calm and confident in front of the goal,” Armbrust said. “I think as soon as we get our first Ivy goal we’ll break through the ice.”
The Bulldogs will be playing their second consecutive road game after battling Harvard to a scoreless draw in overtime last week. Dartmouth also played in overtime on the road last Saturday, falling 2–1 to Princeton. Since then, the Big Green have rebounded with a 3–1 victory at the University of Vermont. Still, both Yale and Dartmouth will be searching for their first Ivy League wins in their second Ivy League games of the season.
The game against Dartmouth will start at 7 p.m. Saturday night.