Sixteen years after the Yale men’s soccer team’s last NCAA Tournament victory — a 1–0 double-overtime victory at Rutgers — the Bulldogs were unable to recreate that magic against the Scarlet Knights.
Looking to snap a three-game losing skid, the Bulldogs (1–8–0, 0–1–0 Ivy) traveled to Piscataway, New Jersey to face Rutgers (5–4–1, 1–3–0 Big Ten) for the second time in program history, the first being the 1999 NCAA tournament matchup. In the 2015 rendition, two first-half goals allowed proved too much for the Elis to overcome, and despite a second-half rally, Yale ultimately dropped the contest 5–2.
“In the last two games, we have made progress, but our execution on all ends of the field needs to be better,” forward Kyle Kenagy ’19 said. “It all comes down to practicing at the same intensity as our games, so we can work on our touch at full speed.”
At Rutgers, head coach Kylie Stannard encountered a familiar opponent, as the Yale newcomer spent six years in the Big Ten as a member of Michigan State’s coaching staff. But the night opened in less-than-ideal fashion for Stannard and his team.
Less than eight minutes into the game, Rutgers forward Jason Wright ripped a shot into the top-right corner of the net to build an early lead that the Scarlet Knights would not relinquish. Wright continued to wreak havoc, scoring again in the 26th minute to double Rutgers’ lead.
Unheard from for nearly an hour, Wright put a fitting cap to the match in the 75th minute for his third and final strike, earning the sixth-highest goal-scorer in the country his first career hat trick.
After Yale notched an early goal against Harvard in the Bulldogs’ previous game, the team reverted to a quiet first half against Rutgers — a concerning trend established in the team’s prior losses to opponents such as Iona and Rhode Island. Excluding the Harvard loss, the Bulldogs have failed to crack the scoring column in the first 45 minutes of their past five defeats.
After only taking three shots in the first half last evening, Stannard’s Yale squad returned to the field after halftime with a renewed offensive aggression. The Elis nearly equaled their season average of 8.8 shots in the second half alone, tallying eight attempts which led to two goals.
“I think that there were some positives that we can take from the game,” forward Keith Bond ’16 said. “We started off a little frantically and needed to be more composed when we had the ball, but we were able to settle in and control some of the possession as the game went on. I thought the team mentality was positive, and even after letting up some early goals, the team stayed together and responded well.”
Although the second half proved more fruitful for the Bulldogs offense, the Scarlet Knights were the first to strike after halftime, as J.P. Correa scored the first of two second-half goals just 3:48 into the period.
Trailing 3–0, the Elis began to fight back in prompt fashion, responding with a goal of their own at the 53-minute mark when defender Ollie Iselin ’18 scored with a header off a free kick for his second goal of the season.
The teams exchanged goals when Correa directed a header of his own to extend the lead back to three with about 25 minutes left to play.
Soon thereafter, midfielder and defender Theo Miller ’18, who had assisted on Iselin’s goal, facilitated another Yale header. At the receiving end this time was Kenagy, who moved into sole possession of fourth place in the Ivy League with his third goal of the season, beating keeper David Greczek to keep the contest interesting.
Despite the action-packed second half, Rutgers never allowed the Bulldogs to pull within a goal and comfortably rode the collective efforts of Wright and Correa to the three-goal victory.
The Bulldogs, now 0–5 away from the friendly confines of Reese Stadium, will return home and return to Ivy competition with a match against Dartmouth this weekend.
“The game against Dartmouth is one of the most important of our season,” midfielder James Kochanski ’19 said. “We need to remain focused on executing in practice leading up to the game and performing in the game itself.”
Kickoff against the Big Green, which boasts the second-highest winning percentage in the Ivy League, is set for 4 p.m. on Saturday.