On senior night this past Saturday, it was only fitting that the play of two seniors, captain and defender Philip Piper ’16 and forward Avery Schwartz ’16, ultimately salvaged the result for the Yale men’s soccer team in a 1–1 tie with Brown.
It was not until the 90th minute that Piper, assisted by Schwartz, equalized the score for Yale (1–13–2, 0–4–2) to send the game into overtime. The Elis, unable to pull out the win over Brown (9–5–2, 3–1–2) despite having several strong chances during the two overtime periods, earned their second Ivy League point of the season with the tie. The comeback prevented the seniors, all of whom started the match, from ending their soccer careers at Reese Stadium with a loss.
“The send-off for the seniors was extremely special,” goalkeeper Ryan Simpson ’17 said. “As an upperclassman, I have had the privilege and pleasure of playing with these guys for three years, and one senior [Pablo Espinola ’16] for 10 years, and since arriving, I have always looked up to them as role models on and off the field. Seeing them yesterday giving their heart out until the final whistle was an amazing moment.”
Yale went behind just six minutes into the game off a Bear throw-in. Brown midfielder Quinn English lobbed the ball into the box, and defender Tim Whalen headed it towards the net. Although Simpson dove to his left, the bouncing ball eluded him and put Brown up.
As has been the theme this season, the Yale offense failed to muster much of a response during the first half but produced better chances in the second. In the opening frame, the Elis executed just three shots, two of which, although on goal, were easily saved by Brown keeper Teo Norhagen. Norhagen, a freshman, came to Providence, Rhode Island, by way of Stockholm, Sweden, and has played on the Swedish national under-17 team.
“I think we started out pretty slow which ended up hurting us because they scored in the first five minutes,” forward Kyle Kenagy ’19 said. “But after the first 20 minutes of the game, we really picked it up.”
In the second half, the Elis pressed with renewed energy in search of an equalizer. Kenagy had a good chance 30 minutes in when he beat his marker to head the ball, but saw his shot pried away.
The best chances, however, came in the last five minutes of the second half. Defender Tyler Detorie ’16 almost capitalized on a scramble in the box, but his shot went high.
“The Brown team was very aggressive and very physical, winning the majority of balls in the air throughout much of the first half,” Simpson said. “Realizing this, we came out in the second half and essentially beat them at their own game. We became the aggressors, began playing the ball behind them and crashing the box on free kicks.”
With less than a minute remaining, Schwartz had plenty of time and space a few meters out from the 18-yard box, creating, essentially, a free kick from the spot. He sent the ball towards the far left side of the goal area, where Piper was ready to head the ball in. Norhagen got a hand on the ball, but was unable to control it as he tipped it into the net.
Yale had the momentum and better opportunities during overtime, outshooting the Bears 5–2. Schwartz nearly scored five minutes into the first period when he had only the goalkeeper between him and the net, but Norhagen blocked his shot with his leg.
“We almost could have sent them off with a win [because] we had a couple of good chances towards the end, but just having an exciting comeback on senior night, and contending against a good Brown team that was competing for an Ivy League championship, was a good send-off,” midfielder Archie Kinnane ’18 said.
The best Yale can finish now is sixth place in the Ancient Eight, which would require the Elis to beat Princeton next Saturday in New Jersey. That match kicks off at 4 p.m.