The Yale men’s soccer team has a great opportunity to move out of last place in the Ivy League standings on Saturday, as it faces another winless conference foe at home.
Taking on Cornell (2–9–1, 0–2–0 Ivy) at Reese Stadium, the Elis (1–9–0, 0–2–0) will look to improve on last week’s encouraging match against Dartmouth. The Bulldog defense played one of its best games last Saturday, but its offense recorded just three shots on goal and failed to make its mark on the match. Against the Big Red, Yale will seek to finally play a complete game, complementing the improved back wall with a potent offensive performance.
“First of all, we want to continue to play lock-down defense,” midfielder Nicky Downs ’19 said. “Then, hopefully we’ll get some stuff going on the attack, so we can score a goal.”
Midfielder Archie Kinnane ’18 added that the team has had a good week in practice and hopes that this preparation will translate into success in the Bulldogs’ third conference matchup.
The last time the two teams met, both had plenty of opportunities to take the lead but squandered most of their combined 31 shots. As was the theme throughout the 2014 season, it was the Yale defense that finally yielded with less than 10 minutes left to play. The game winner was scored by Cornell midfielder Conor Goepel, who led the Big Red in goals and points last season but graduated last May.
Without its 2014 talisman, the Big Red has struggled to recreate last season’s 10–6–1 campaign and, until this week, its win total was identical to that of Yale. Against Colgate this past Tuesday, Cornell notched its second win of the season, and first in four games, through an early goal from sophomore defender Eric Nuss. As a result, Cornell will have momentum on its side as the team travels to New Haven.
“We found that Cornell likes to play very direct and very aggressive,” forward and leading Bulldog scorer Kyle Kenagy ’19 said. “They’re going to come out chasing a lot of balls, and we think the best way to deal with it is to be able to control the ball well and have them run around a lot to tire themselves out at the beginning.”
The Elis and Big Red have had similar struggles on both sides of the ball this season. Cornell has scored five goals in 12 games this season, the lowest total in the Ivy League. Although Yale has scored four more goals in all contests, its 85 shots are 30 lower than the Ivy League average, and the team is ranked dead last in that category. On the defensive side, the teams are ranked one and two in the Ivy League for number of goals allowed, with Yale leading the way at 25 in 10 games.
Despite the fact that Cornell seems to be a weaker opponent than other teams the Bulldogs have faced this season, Kinnane said that the team is still approaching this game like all others.
“I think we try to prepare just as much for any opponent no matter what their record is, because we know that records can be deceiving,” Kinnane said.
Saturday’s match will also serve as a charity function for the Bulldogs, who will warm up in specially designed T-shirts and have started a crowd fundraiser in support of Grassroot Soccer, an organization that uses soccer to empower youth and combat the spread of HIV, according to its website.
As of Thursday night team has raised $1,575 from seven different donors thus far, slightly more than a quarter of its $5,000 goal.
“[Grassroot Soccer] is something our upperclassmen have been working with,” Kenagy said. “It’s both awareness for the spread of HIV and a health organization, which connects health educators and mentors with kids to help them live healthier and more productive lives.”
The game kicks off in Reese Stadium at 1 p.m. It will be followed by a women’s soccer matchup, also between Yale and Cornell, at 4 p.m.