The Yale men’s soccer team got out on the pitch for its season opener against Sacred Heart on Friday, and then stayed out there.
With the game deadlocked at one goal apiece after regulation, the Bulldogs (0–0–1, 0–0–0 Ivy) played 20 minutes of extra time to draw the Pioneers (0–2–1, 0–0–0 Northeast Conference) 1–1 on Sept. 5.
Both teams struggled to finish on an afternoon rife with scoring opportunities. Yale fired 19 shots, seven of which were on goal, while Sacred Heart put forth a similar mark with 18 total shots and seven on target. Despite the shooting numbers, both teams were unable to break onto the scoreboard until the second half. Yale came close twice, with a brace of shots smacking off the posts in the opening 45 minutes.
Furthermore, good goalkeeping ruled much of the afternoon, as both keepers finished with six saves on the day.
“The defense was solid,” Conner Lachenbruch ’15 said, reflecting on Yale’s stiff pressure inside its own half.
The deadlock finally broke in the 66th minute, as one of the Pioneers’ long-range strikes finally hit home. Mahmoud Kafel took two quick dribbles before connecting on a 25-yard wonder goal that he fired inside the far post and beyond keeper Ryan Simpson’s ’17 grasp to give Sacred Heart the lead.
With the game suddenly in Sacred Heart’s control, the Bulldogs were forced to regroup. Head coach Brian Tompkins made a pair of substitutions in the 68th minute, hoping to force an offensive breakthrough by bringing on two seasoned attackers, Peter Ambiel ’15 and Henos Musie ’16. Yale’s attack, despite Tompkins’s adjustments, seemed unable to break through until a goal from an unexpected scorer in the 85th minute saved the match for the Bulldogs. Defender Henry Flugstad-Clarke ’17 scored his first career goal for the Bulldogs to knot the score at 1–1, heading home a free kick and beating a staunch Sacred Heart defense in Yale’s hour of need.
“I thought that the team showed [that it will be] much stronger offensively than we have in past years and proved that we will be a threat in the air this year,” Max Cook ’17 said after the match.
The goal forced the match into an exhausting double overtime struggle neither side was able to find the back of the net once more. Ultimately, the hotly contested match ended level after a grueling 110 minutes of play.
“I thought the game went well, but it was unfortunate to not get the result we wanted,” Josh Totte ’18 said. “We had a ton of chances, hit the post three times, and in my opinion did enough to win the game. Unfortunately we had a couple unlucky breaks and didn’t come away with the win, but its great to have a positive start to the season.”
Yale’s next match is at home against Iona on Tuesday, Sept. 9.