The first round of games for the Yale men’s soccer team resulted in a disappointing start to the season, with the first two non-conference games ending in losses for the Bulldogs.
Kicking off the year at Sacred Heart, the Elis put up a good fight, going into two rounds of overtime before falling to the Pioneers by a final score of 2–1. In Sunday’s contest against Fairleigh Dickinson, Yale was unable to rebound, allowing an early goal and losing 3–1 to the Knights.
“Results didn’t go our way this weekend, but we definitely put some pieces in place for the upcoming season,” defender Ollie Iselin ’18 said. “It’s a long road and while the beginning has been a little bumpy, we are confident that we can turn it around.”
Sacred Heart’s quick restarts and counterattacks were difficult for the Bulldogs to combat, but the Elis’ defense was able to shut them down in a scoreless first half.
Just before the 58-minute mark, starting forward Kyle Kenagy ’19 headed home his first career goal to put the Bulldogs on the board. Midfielder Dylan Onderdonk-Snow ’17, who also made his first career start, had the assist for the first goal of the game — and season.
“It was placed perfectly,” Kenagy said. “All I had to do was head it in goal.”
After holding the lead against the Pioneers (1–1–1, 0–0–0 Northeast) for the majority of the game, a Yale defender accidentally chested Sacred Heart’s first goal into the net in the 72nd minute of the match. At the 90-minute mark, the teams were tied.
Going into overtime, Yale’s players felt confident that they would be able to pull out the win, especially because the switch to a pressing defensive system had found success in the game. However, a foul by Yale conceded the game-winning penalty kick in the second overtime period, which Sacred Heart’s Murray Cockburn drove home during the 104th minute of play.
Goalkeeper Ryan Simpson ’17 made a total of eight saves to keep the Pioneers to only two goals. After an early foul in the ninth minute by Yale, he saved a penalty kick by Giancarlo Maurello to keep the game scoreless until the second half.
With only two days to recover from the loss, the team was on the road again, this time to play Fairleigh Dickinson (1–2–0, 0–0–0, Northeast). According to Onderdonk-Snow, however, the focus on overall team fitness during the preseason helped the team to rebound and play well against its second opponent of the season.
Despite the Bulldogs’ best efforts, the Knights were able to strike quickly, scoring within the first five minutes of the game.
Not long after that goal, Yale managed to find the back of the net as well when Kenagy headed in a pass from midfielder Archie Kinnane ’18 for his second goal in as many games.
“Their early goal didn’t change the game much, because we scored soon after to cancel it out,” Onderdonk-Snow said. “In fact, it probably only served to galvanize us.”
Kenagy credited Kinnane with a fantastic lob pass to set up the goal.
Yet at halftime, the Elis were down 2–1 due to a goal in the 37th minute on a rebound following a save by Simpson. The second half remained scoreless until the last minute of the game, when Christian Dietrich scored the third and final goal for the Knights.
Despite the dismal start, players are still confident that they can compete against any team.
“We learned that we can compete well against any team,” Kenagy said. “We confirmed we have a top-notch defense and goaltender, and [we] just need to finish our chances. In the end, it all comes down to execution and perfecting the little details.”
The Bulldogs have their home opener this Friday at Reese Stadium against UC Santa Barbara. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.