After enduring 21 consecutive winless matches against Ivy League opponents, the Yale men’s soccer team finally broke through on Sunday against Cornell.
Three Bulldogs — captain and defender Henry Flugstad-Clarke ’17, forward Justin Lobe ’20 and midfielder Ollie Iselin ’18 — all netted goals in the 3–0 win against the Big Red (1–10–2, 0–3–0 Ivy) in Ithaca. Meanwhile Yale (2–5–2, 1–1–1) keeper Kees Schipper ’19 saved all three of Cornell’s shots on goal, shutting out the Big Red in second-year head coach Kylie Stannard’s first career win over an Ivy League opponent.
“[The win] was nice,” Flugstad-Clarke said. “It’s been a while, but it’s an indication of the direction in which the program is headed.”
After tough losses to Dartmouth and the University of Connecticut in the last week, Yale came out with a set game strategy: to start aggressively on Sunday in its game against Cornell. Though the Elis took six corner kicks and outshot the Big Red 7–5 in the first half, neither team managed to find the back of the net.
With the score still tied at 0–0 at the half, the Bulldogs came out of the locker room optimistic for the final 45 minutes.
“Most importantly, we didn’t panic at halftime and we came out very focused and determined in the second half,” Stannard said. “[The team] trusted the game plan and tactics and we just had to continue doing what we had been doing. We knew we would create enough chances to score.”
Less than 10 minutes into the second half, Yale rattled off a series of quick, unanswered goals to put Cornell down by three. Downs ignited the offense in the 47th minute, assisting Flugstad-Clarke from near midfield for the opening goal. The captain received the free kick and headed it into the net for his third goal of the season.
After putting a point on the board, the Elis continued the trend just minutes later, with defender Lobe scoring an unassisted goal by dribbling past multiple Cornell players from midfield. Within five minutes, midfielder Lucas Kirby ’19, forward John Leisman ’20 and Iselin worked together to score the third and final goal for Yale. Kirby sent the ball down the right side to Leisman who then found Iselin with a cross pass in front of the net. The junior collected the ball on one bounce and sent it flying past Cornell goalie Ryan Shellow.
The Big Red was unable to respond to Yale’s sudden outburst, posting just six shots to the Bulldogs’ 15 throughout the game. Cornell’s leading scorers, forwards Brady Dickens and Jonathan Cullom, couldn’t seem to find their way to the goal, with only one attempted shot between the two.
“Throughout the game we limited their chances and didn’t give them any free shots,” Downs said. “I think the most important thing is that we won an Ivy League game. To get that monkey off our back is big.”
For all but the four seniors on the Yale team, Sunday’s game in Ithaca represents their win first against an Ancient Eight opponent since joining the Blue and White. After finishing winless and last in the Ivy League for the past two seasons, the Bulldogs are currently tied for fourth place with Brown.
The Elis will square off against Michigan State and Penn later this week on the heels of their monumental win. The Quakers (3–3–5, 1–2) currently stand two places behind Yale in the Ivy League standings and have not won a game since defeating Cornell 2–1 in early October.
The upcoming matchup presents another opportunity for the Bulldogs to improve on their rising conference standing, and Stannard reiterated his high expectations for his team moving into the second half of the Ivy League season.
“This may sound greedy, but I think we are capable of scoring more goals out of the chances we have been creating, so I want to see even more confidence and determination to score,” Stannard said. “I was also extremely pleased with the shutout, but we can still improve tightening some things up defensively as we are getting ready to play some very good attacking players and teams.”
Yale will travel to East Lansing to face Michigan State on Wednesday at 3 p.m. before returning home to host Penn on Saturday at 7 p.m.