While it was not a win, the Yale men’s soccer team’s tie against Harvard last weekend gives the team a sense of momentum lacking in its previous seasons as it heads into this Saturday’s clash against Dartmouth. In their third and final weekend of successive road trips, the Bulldogs will take on the Big Green, the titans of the Ivy League and two-time defending champions.
Yale (1-–3–2, 0–0–1 Ivy) entered its Ivy League campaign at the lowest point of its season, coming off of three consecutive shutout losses. But despite the hole that the team appeared to be sinking into, the Bulldogs managed to climb back, tying Harvard in the Ancient Eight opener. This Saturday, the Elis will once again test their resolve against Dartmouth (2–2–5, 0–0–1) and attempt to secure their first Ivy League victory in over two years.
“[Beating Dartmouth] would be massive,” striker Ollie Iselin ’18 said. “We had a really competitive game with them last year that could have gone either way, and we’re confident that given recent performances and the current feeling within the team that we can put ourselves in a great position to get a result at a tough place on the road.”
After a three-game skid in which the team failed to score a single goal, the Bulldogs managed to regroup. In a roller-coaster ride of a game, the Elis climbed quickly to a 2–0 lead, only to allow three opposing goals and lose their initial lead. Coming off of three losses and watching their two-goal lead dissipate in under half an hour, Yale refused to fall for a fourth time in a row: Defender and captain Henry Flugstad-Clarke ’17 secured his team’s third, and the game’s final, goal in the 86th minute.
Now, with the added confidence of that comeback tie and the point the team gained from the result, the Elis believe they can carry their momentum into the game against Dartmouth.
“[Tying Harvard] definitely gives us a little boost,” midfielder Nicky Downs ’19 said. “We could’ve and should’ve won that game, but a point on the road to start the Ivy League against a nationally competitive Harvard team is a good result nonetheless.”
But potentially more important than acquiring a point in the Ivy League standings, the Elis proved to themselves that despite the inevitable lows within both a single game and across a long season, they have the mettle to regain their stride. The team now believes it’s capable of breaking from its struggles in recent seasons.
Head coach Kylie Stannard noted that the Harvard game was a valuable learning experience for the freshmen.
“We had eight freshmen and sophomores on the field against Harvard with many of them playing their first Ivy League game,” Stannard said. “We learned how competitive and intense these conference games can be and that if you lose focus and composure during the game, we can get punished quickly. We also learned that this team has a lot of heart and never-say-die attitude, which is a sign that we are growing.”
In Saturday’s game, the Elis will go toe to toe with the team that has sat on the Ivy league throne over the two years in which Yale was stuck in the gutter. Over the course of those seasons, Dartmouth lost just two games — the same number that the Elis won over the same period.
Nevertheless, in last year’s loss, the Bulldogs did not roll over against the Big Green, surrendering only a single goal on a shot from more than 25 yards out. However, this year, Dartmouth appears to be a far weaker team. In 2015, before the match against Yale, the Big Green were 5–3–1. This year, they are just 2–2–5.
A win on Saturday would be Yale’s first Ivy victory since Oct. 12, 2013, when the Elis managed an overtime win against Dartmouth.
The Bulldogs kick off at 7 p.m. in Hanover.