The Yale men’s soccer team dropped its third straight game in a 3–0 shutout loss to New Hampshire. Although the Bulldogs started the season strong, with positive results against Michigan and Sacred Heart, they have skidded since. Now, off the heels of these three losses, the team will face Ancient Eight rival Harvard to begin league play.
The Elis (1–3–1, 0–0–0 Ivy) dominated play in the game’s first half, but allowed the Wildcats (8–1–0, 0–0–0 American East) to take control after halftime. Yale was bested, in large part, by the play of New Hampshire forward Chris Arling, who notched two goals and an assist.
Now, less than a week away from embarking on their Ivy League season, the Bulldogs hope their strong first half is a harbinger of what’s to come.
“[I’m] extremely happy with our first half performance as it was the best we have had all year but we didn’t take our chances well,” said head coach Kylie Stannard. “Unfortunately, we got a little unlucky on the first goal against [us] and then their second goal was arguably offside. We need to respond better in these moments and not be negatively affected. It was generally an even game but the UNH forwards are excellent and took their chances well.”
The Elis controlled the game from whistle to whistle in the opening frame. They set the tempo of play, taking six shots, but only two of those attempts were on target, highlighting the team’s inefficiency. Moreover, the two shots which ended up inside the framework were swallowed by Wildcat goalie Andrew Pesci, who hasn’t given up a goal in over 393 minutes of play.
Yale’s defense fared far better, holding its opponent to just one, off-target shot.
But despite putting forth the best 45 minutes of their season thus far, the Elis were not able to convert their statistical advantage into a lead, ending the half with the scoreboard unchanged.
In Yale’s prior two losses, it has fallen victim to slow starts, giving up three first-half goals. Stannard had emphasized the importance of a strong start to the New Hampshire match, and despite the final outcome of the game, the team was able to deliver on that front.
“There are a lot of positives to take away from the first half,” said midfielder Josh Totte ’18. “That’s something that should give us confidence.”
The Elis’ sterling defensive play faltered just over two minutes after the second half’s opening tap. Arling began his second-half onslaught with a one-time assist to take the game’s first lead, one his team would not relinquish. Less than three minutes later, Arling buried his first goal to push New Hampshire’s lead to two.
The game’s next shot would provide New Hampshire with its third and decisive goal. Arling hunted down the cross from a set piece, smashing a header into the twine. Up three in the 58th minute, the Wildcats had all but wrapped up the game. Yale was only able to produce one shot on goal thereafter — which Pesci handled — but otherwise, the Bulldogs remained silent.
During this three-game slump, the Elis have had scattered bright spots, but the Bulldogs have not been able to string their moments of excellence together. According to midfielder Nicky Downs ’19, the team’s next step must be putting forth effective soccer for an entire game.
“I think the team is disappointed after our last three results, but we have still done some good things,” Downs said. “We just need to find a way to put in a complete 90-minute shift. This is when we really have to lock in, but we are confident we can get it done in the Ivy League.”
Yale will have the chance to produce its first full 90-minute effort in its Ivy League season opener in Cambridge on Saturday at 4 p.m.