The men’s soccer team saw its Ivy League title ambitions go up in smoke on Senior Night last Saturday after Brown scored two goals inside the first 10 minutes to put the game away.
The Bulldogs (4–10–2, 2–2–2 Ivy) came into the weekend needing a win and some help from other teams in order to have a chance at their first Ancient Eight championship since 2005, but lost 3–1 to Brown (7–6–3, 3–1–2).
“The loss was really tough, especially because I think we played some of the best soccer in the Ivy League this year,” defender Nick Alers ’14 said. “At the end of the day, it was somewhat of a fair reflection of our team though. We’ve struggled to do some of the little things well. We haven’t defended set pieces and that came back to haunt us Saturday with the two early goals we gave up.”
An eventful first half saw all four of the game’s goals in two five-minute spurts. With just over four minutes gone in the game, the Bears went ahead after leading scorer Tariq Akeel nodded in a free kick. He doubled his account just four minutes later on another set piece opportunity from just outside of the box.
Striker Jenner Fox ’14 halved the deficit in the 36th minute after he latched onto Cameron Kirdzik’s ’17 through-ball. Fox was one of Yale’s liveliest players on the night with three shots, including his first goal of the season.
The Elis came out of halftime a totally different team and dominated the match, but they couldn’t change the scoreboard. The Bulldogs outshot Brown 10–1 in the second half, but only forced Brown goalkeeper Josh Weiner into one save on winger Cody Wilkins’s ’14 effort in the 57th minute.
“It was definitely frustrating to not find the back of the net in the second half,” Alers said. “We generated a lot of chances, but we have to give Brown credit. They made some important tackles and saves.”
Brown could only muster one shot in the second period and was put under duress by the Bulldogs for most of the second 45. The Elis saw a flurry of chances go by in a two-minute period at the end of the game with four shots, two of which were blocked, and a corner kick.
The Bulldogs suffered from their failure to defend set pieces early in the game, even though the Elis outplayed the Bears for 80 minutes after Brown’s two quick goals. Yale held Brown to just four shots after the second goal in the ninth minute.
“The result was definitely harsh,” captain Max McKiernan ’14 said. “We played well enough to win, but hats off to Brown at the end of the day. They were opportunistic and found a way to put the ball in the back of the net in key moments.”
Head coach Brian Tompkins started all seven members of the class of 2014 in a fitting tribute to the seniors’ four years at Reese Stadium. Defender Tucker Kocher ’14, although still injured, played in his first game in two seasons alongside his classmates.
With the win, the Bears stretched their win streak to four straight games, but the Bears fell out of contention for the Ancient Eight title when Harvard beat Columbia 2–0 on Saturday.