In its first conference game at home, the Yale men’s soccer team was shutout for the eighth time this season, falling to Columbia to extend the Bulldogs’ losing skid to four — their longest of the 2016 season.
Their inability to score once again plagued the Elis (2–9–2, 1–3–1 Ivy) as they were shutout by the Lions (10–3–1, 3–1–1) in the 1–0 loss. While Columbia’s stout defense proved too much for Yale’s struggling offense, the Bulldog defense, which only allows an average of 1.67 goals-per game, continued to play at a high level, according to head coach Kylie Stannard.
“Columbia is a good team and I thought we gave them a tough game and executed well defensively to put ourselves in a position to get a result,” Stannard said. “We neutralized two of the better attacking players in the league and I was really pleased.”
Defense dominated the night for both teams. During the first half, the Lions forced Yale’s goalie Kees Schipper ’19 to make just one save, sending their four other shots off target. Yale’s offense fared worse than the Lions’, only taking three shots, none of which wound up on goal.
Scoring goals has been a problem for the Elis over their past three seasons. In 2013, Yale averaged 0.41 goals per game and 0.76 the following year. This season, the Bulldogs have improved marginally, scoring at a 0.85 goals-per-game clip.
“I give Columbia a lot of credit for being better in their defensive transition and clogging up the box very well,” Stannard said. “They had two or three blocked shots in the box which were headed for goal, including one that was saved by a defender very close to the goal line.”
Both teams entered their locker rooms without making a dent on the scoreboard.
However, the Lions managed to capitalize on a set piece in just the third minute of the second frame. Columbia earned a free kick just over ten yards from midfield. The Lions sent a long and curling set piece into the box, which a Yale defender deflected out of bounds, past the end line. The ensuing corner kick proved to be Yale’s demise: Midfielder Rhys Williams met the in-swinging corner in the air and sent a header screaming down into Schipper’s feet. The keeper managed to block the first attempt, but could not control the rebound. Forward Kynan Rocks found the end of the 50-50 ball and slipped it into the twine, from only a yard or two out.
“I’m disappointed to give up a goal on a corner kick,” Stannard said. “Besides that, they only had one more shot on goal themselves.”
Yale failed to secure a shot on goal throughout the rest of the half, and thus, the entire game. This was the first time this season the Bulldogs have failed to find the frame with a shot.
Forward Kyle Kenagy ’19, one of Yale’s four players with multiple goals on the season, chalked Saturday’s offensive impotence up to a combination of a lack of poise and a few chances that did not bounce their way.
“We just need to have more composure in the box to get shots on frame,” Kenagy said. “We had two major chances where the ball knocked down [but] just didn’t find our feet.”
Though the team’s offensive output this season remains low, it still represents an improvement over each of the past two seasons. Moreover, the team, with three games left to play, has twice as many multiple-goal games as it managed last year. And in those remaining three games, Yale plays St. Joseph’s, Brown and Princeton, respectively — none of which have winning records.
According to midfielder Lucas Kirby ’19, the games in which the Elis have scored multiple times are proof that the offense has the skill to produce goals.
“We know we have the ability to execute the offensive patterns that we constantly train, as was evident in the Cornell game,” Kirby said. “We simply need to build up our confidence and focus on executing.”
Yale’s next game is at home against St. Joseph’s on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.