On the road for its final match of the season, the Yale men’s soccer team will take on Princeton this Saturday, hoping to turn the momentum from last week’s tie against Brown into the Bulldogs’ first Ivy win of the season.
While Yale’s second tie of the 2015 Ivy League campaign has given the team confidence heading into the weekend, Princeton (9–5–2, 2–3–1 Ivy) has seen far more recent success and enters the contest riding a two-game winning streak. With every Ivy League team finishing its regular season Saturday, the Tigers and Elis (1–13–2, 0–4–2) will be fighting to finish on a strong note.
“We are all looking to get this final win, and I believe we have worked hard enough this entire year to accomplish that,” forward Kyle Kenagy ’19 said.
Yale was able to break a three-game losing streak last Saturday after a goal in the last 41 seconds equalized the score against Brown. Captain and defender Philip Piper ’16 headed in a ball to keep the Bulldogs alive for two overtime periods. However, neither team managed to successfully score again, ending the game with an even score.
Piper and the rest of the class of 2016, in particular, will be seeking a strong send-off in the final game of their Yale careers.
Although they were honored during last week’s Senior Day, the Saturday contest offers Yale one last chance to win its first conference game since October 2013.
“We want to get a win for our seniors,” midfield Josh Totte ’18 said. “They’ve done so much to move this program forward, and have contributed in so many ways, so we all are really exited to get out and battle one last time with them.”
While Princeton ranks fifth in the Ivy League standings, its offense, in particular, is a threat. The Tiger offense stands at the top of the Ivy League with 32 goals, led primarily by forward Thomas Sanner, who has dominated the conference with 12 goals — twice as many as any other Ivy player has scored, and just one fewer than Yale’s total as a whole. Sanner currently stands at seventh in all of NCAA Division I with 0.75 goals per game.
His teammate, midfielder Brendan McSherry, is second in the Ancient Eight with six goals, proving that both players, as well as the rest of the Princeton offense, will be a challenge for the Bulldogs.
Yale, meanwhile, has struggled defensively, ranking last in the Ivy League with 2.1 goals allowed thus far. Against a Princeton defense that has allowed 1.4 goals per game — fifth in the conference — a key for the Bulldogs in overcoming the Tigers’ attack may be an offensive surge of Yale’s own. That has not happened for much of the season, however, as Yale has scored more than one goal just twice this season, and neither of those performances came in the last seven games.
“Princeton will be another tough Ivy League game,” midfielder Nicky Downs ’19 said. “We are trying to stay relaxed and just play, because at this point there is no pressure on us, so hopefully that will play to our advantage. We expect it to be another battle, but we are confident we can get the result and finish the season out on a high note.”
The Tigers also enter the game with limited pressure on their shoulders, and certainly less pressure than their last contest with Yale. Last year at Reese Stadium, Princeton’s 1–0 win over Yale clinched a share of the Tigers’ Ivy League championship with Dartmouth. This year, the Big Green has already secured sole claim to the title, as it enters this weekend with a perfect 6–0–0 record in the conference, and no other team can reach 18 league points this weekend.
Yale kicks off in Princeton, New Jersey at 3 p.m. Saturday.