The Yale men’s soccer team will wrap up its 2016 season against Princeton this weekend in an attempt to win its first conference game since Oct. 16. The Bulldogs hope to send their seniors out with a victory that would be their fourth of the season, a feat the Elis haven’t accomplished since 2013.
Yale (3–10–2, 1–4–1 Ivy) faces off against the Tigers (7–7–2, 1–3–2) on Saturday at Reese Stadium in what will be the final game for four Bulldog seniors. The Elis will go for their second victory in their last three games, coming off a 3–1 defeat of St. Joseph’s followed by a 3–1 loss to Brown that saw two Bears goals in the final two minutes.
“It is so important for us to end on a high note [against Princeton], not only for our seniors but to build confidence going forward next year,” forward Kyle Kenagy ’19 said.
In order for the Bulldogs to emerge victorious, they will almost certainly need to find the twine more than once against the Tigers. This season, Yale is 0–10–0 when scoring one or fewer goals, but 3–0–2 when registering multiple goals. All of the Elis’ three wins this season came in performances when they tallied at least 12 shots.
Even if the Bulldogs maintain their offense, they will need to defend against a Princeton attack that leads the conference with 14 assists and 15.5 shots per game.
Princeton has struggled recently in its last five games, going 1–3–1 while conceding 12 goals. The Tigers’ lone victory in that stretch came over a Cornell team that is 0–6 in conference play and fell victim to Yale in the Bulldogs’ lone conference victory this season. However, Princeton definitely has the advantage in experience, as the Tigers’ roster features eight senior players that will don the orange and black for the final time this weekend.
Offensively, Princeton boasts the most prolific scorer in the Ivy League in defender Greg Seifert. The senior leads the conference with 11 goals, 26 points and 57 shots. Seifert has also netted three game-winning goals this season, the most recent of which came against the Big Red on Oct. 29.
“Princeton is a very well coached team and always well balanced,” Yale head coach Kylie Stannard said. “They are playing a little more direct this year than they have in the past, and they are scoring some goals but also conceding a decent amount as well.”
Last season, the Bulldog’s conference finale also came against the Tigers in a game that the Elis lost 3–0. Princeton outshot Yale 32–9 and forced three more corner kicks than the Elis in a game in which all three of the Tigers’ goals came in the first half. Princeton has only lost to Yale once since 2008, a 2–1 victory for the Bulldogs in 2011.
For Yale’s four seniors — defender Max Cook ’17, defender and captain Henry Flugstad-Clarke ’17, midfielder Dylan Onderdonk-Snow ’17 and goalkeeper Ryan Simpson ’17 — Saturday’s game represents the end of their collegiate soccer careers. Three of them have appeared in at least 14 of 15 games this season and Flugstad-Clarke leads the team in goals and points, with four and nine, respectively.
“Obviously it’s somewhat emotional for me, as I’m sure it is for all the seniors,” Flugstad-Clarke said. “I’ve dedicated my whole life to playing soccer; it’s been a huge part of my life and has taught me a ton about myself. My teammates are some of my closest friends in the world, so I’m just hoping to go out on a high note this Saturday. … Being captain of this team has been the greatest honor of my life, and it’s something I will always look back on with pride.”
The Bulldogs kick off at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Reese Stadium.