With a goal from forward Keith Bond ’16 just two minutes into their fourth Ancient Eight matchup of the season, the last place Yale Bulldogs (1–9–3, 0–3–1 Ivy) managed to steal a point in their weekend clash against the Penn Quakers (6–6–1, 2–1–1), who currently hold the Ivy soccer crown. In its first Ivy match on home ground, Yale — a strong defensive team — got the cushion it needed to hold off a surging Penn attack.
Despite that early strike, however, the Elis produced a poor offensive finishing performance. The Bulldogs launched 17 shots, but only four were on target. Though the offense has been inefficient, Yale’s defense has been quite productive all season, holding teams to 1.22 goals per game, with a 4–1 loss to Dartmouth standing as an outlier. While the Elis have a penchant toward conceding late, Penn’s equalizer came just four minutes after Yale took the lead, when Forrest Clancy slipped a 25-yard free kick past goaltender Blake Brown ’15.
“I thought our guys played with a lot of heart all game,” forward Teddy Mauze ’18 said. “Their one goal was a highlight-reel free kick that we couldn’t do anything about. I don’t think any of us were too happy about the result, but I can say with confidence that all of us were proud of the way we matched a very talented Penn team.”
Once Clancy equalized, Yale’s defense clamped down for what may have been its best performance of the season. With 84 minutes remaining in the game, the Eli back line held the Quakers to just a single shot on target, bringing their on-target total to two for the game on only nine shots.
“Our defensive group deserves credit for closing down the most prolific scoring duo in the league,” head coach Brian Tompkins said. “[Duke] LaCroix and [Alec] Neumann are a handful, but Phil Piper [’16] and Henry Flugstad-Clarke [’17] did a good job of restricting their chances at goal. I was encouraged by the confidence and spirit of our group; they fought hard in midfield, created a lot of chances and looked dangerous from start to finish.”
With just three Ivy League contests left for the Bulldogs, Yale will look to build upon performances like this one. Despite a poor season statistically, the Elis have bounced back in their last three games. Yale soccer has gone 1–1–1 over that three-match stretch, including its first win and a tie against a heavily favored Penn squad. Despite scoring woes, Yale has also exceeded its season average in scoring over this period. It remains to be seen, however, whether this uptick in form can translate into a string of meaningful wins.
“I thought the team put in a really solid performance last night, and I thought we were a bit unlucky not to get the win,” said Bond, the Elis’ lone goal scorer against Penn. “Even though the season hasn’t been going as desired, the guys are still extremely motivated and competitive, and I thought it showed during the game. Penn was a solid team, and I thought we had the better of the play for most of the game.”
Yale takes on the University of Connecticut in its next game on Tuesday. After the UConn game, the Bulldogs play three final Ivy contests to close out the season.