After producing one of the most memorable finishes in Yale soccer history against Harvard in 2013, the Elis failed to recreate their last minute heroics in this year’s Ivy League opener. Falling 1–0 to the Harvard Crimson (6–3, 1–0–0 Ivy), Yale (0–7–2, 0–1–0) dropped their fourth straight game and went scoreless for the sixth time this season.
Unlike many matchups, Yale versus Harvard was not characterized by a failure on the Bulldogs’ part to take advantage of opportunities. This time, the opportunities were simply non-existent. Launching only four shots, with just one on target, the Yale offense was incapable of pulling together any scoring chances, as a usually porous Harvard defense played brilliantly to shut down the Bulldogs in the attacking third.
Harvard, by contrast, played at their usual high offensive clip, launching 14 shots with six on target. In spite of this, Yale’s defense weathered most of the storm, as they held off the Crimson throughout most of the game until Mark Ashby poached a 65th minute goal from inside the box that broke the Elis’ hearts.
“I thought that the effort [Saturday] night was fantastic from the guys, and that unfortunately we didn’t get the result we were looking for,” Keith Bond ’16 said. “Road games in the Ivy League are always especially tough, but I thought we did an excellent job bringing some great energy to the game. Luckily, the league isn’t decided in just one game, so we have six more Ivy games to look forward to, starting next Saturday at Dartmouth.”
Despite a poor offensive showing from the Elis, goalkeeper Blake Brown ’15 did his best to keep the Elis in the game. With a five-save performance, Brown showed veteran talent in limiting Harvard to just one goal.
All in all, Yale’s defense ruled the day for the Elis, managing to hold a blistering Harvard offense off long enough to prop up the struggling Yale attack.
“Our defense especially played outstanding with a special shout out to Phil Piper ’16, Lukas Czinger ’16, Tyler Detorie ’16 and Henry [Flugstad-Clarke] ’17 as well as goalkeeper Blake Brown,” said Pablo Espinola ’16. “They really put the team on their back last night and handled a Harvard front six that has caused a lot of problems for other teams around the country.”
Ultimately, the Crimson did what virtually every Ivy League soccer analyst expected them to do: come away with the win. Favored in almost every statistical category, Harvard was the clear-cut choice to win their Ivy League opener.
Yale showed moxie and determination in making that initial victory far harder than the Crimson would have liked, but defensive prowess was simply not enough to contend with Harvard’s startling offensive pace, balanced scoring and all-star attacking prowess.
“We went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the Ivy League and fought like true Bulldogs as the game’s serious underdog,” said Ollie Iselin ’18. “Unfortunately the tiny margins between winning and losing became apparent again and they nicked a goal with 25 minutes to go. Another exhibition of great spirit and character but not the result we were looking for.”
The Bulldogs will continue Ivy competition against Dartmouth in Hanover this Saturday at 7 p.m.