The Yale men’s soccer team entered Saturday night seeking to rebound from a midweek loss to Quinnipiac. Instead, the Bulldogs stumbled for the second game in a row.
Unable to match the physicality and north-south play of Lafayette (2–4–0, 0–0 Patriot), the Bulldogs (1–2–1, 0–0 Ivy) found themselves facing an uphill battle for nearly the entire game.
The Leopards found the back of the net in the fourth minute and despite flashes of offensive creativity and plenty of opportunities, the Elis were never able to recover from that deficit, eventually conceding a second goal along the way.
“We were disappointed in our first half after talking a lot about what to be prepared for in this game,” head coach Kylie Stannard said. “We responded with great energy and emotion in the second half but we didn’t have enough urgency or danger from the run of play or from set pieces. We are dealing with some injuries and are a young team and we showed that in this game.”
The Bulldogs began trailing shortly after the echoes of the game’s first whistle had finished reverberating off neighboring Coxe Cage. After turning the ball over in their half, the Elis could only watch as Leopard midfielder Ryan Egan caught goalkeeper Kees Schipper ’19 by surprise, sending a half volley soaring over Schipper’s head and into the back of the net from 32 yards out.
“Ultimately it could have either turned out as a questionable goal or a monster save, but I just wasn’t prepared for it in the moment,” Schipper said. “There were a lot of mistakes that led to the goal. We didn’t clear the ball well, we didn’t close down the shot and I didn’t move my feet quickly enough to make the save. Overall it was a very preventable goal, and I think it took a lot out of us early on.”
Rather than relinquish the lead, the Leopards doubled it.
In the 33rd minute Lafayette scored on its second shot on goal of the game. Capitalizing on a counter attack, the Leopards moved the ball from the middle of their half to Yale’s penalty box in only two passes, culminating in a strike off the right pipe and in.
Despite the 2–0 scoreline, Yale had one more shot on goal than the Leopards in the first half, though none of the Eli opportunities materialized into a goal.
“We probably had the better of the chances in the first half to be honest but we didn’t convert,” midfielder Nicky Downs ’19 said.
Both teams changed their approach heading into the game’s second half, Stannard said.
The Elis entered the final 45 minutes with a renewed mindset while Lafayette’s formation and style of play was noticeably more defensive.
“Lafayette dropped off a lot in the second half to protect its lead and forced us to break them down so we had more of the ball in the second half and were able to push numbers forward a little more,” Stannard said. “The primary adjustment was that our mentality improved in the second half.”
But Yale’s second half changes proved fruitless, as it was unable to cut into the two-goal deficit.
Downs believed it was Lafayette’s physical style of play that gave Yale the most trouble.
“Lafayette was super physical and knew how to play that way,” Downs said. “The game was super scrappy and physical, and they definitely won that battle … We need to find a way to deal with and physically match up with teams like that and then be effective and efficient going forward when we do get on the ball.”
Yale will next take the pitch at New Hampshire on Saturday for another 7 p.m. start.