Yale Athletics

The Yale men’s soccer team returned home from Philadelphia with a win this weekend, snapping its three-game losing streak by way of a shutout. With the victory, the Elis match last year’s win total with three.

Yale (3–4–0, 0–0–0 Ivy) hit the road for the third weekend in a row to square off against Saint Joseph’s (2–4–2, 0–0–0 Atlantic 10) under the lights at Sweeney Field. Despite falling to two talented West Coast teams last weekend, the Elis built off their successes and looked to put away the Hawks early.

The first, and only, goal of the game came in the seventh minute when forward Kyle Kenagy ’19 found the back of the net off a corner kick from midfielder Nicky Downs ’19. Kenagy’s goal against Saint Joseph’s marks his second in just two games. His first came as a header last Sunday against No. 5 Stanford, the back-to-back College Cup champions and a team renowned for stellar defensive play and numerous shutouts.

“We really gained a lot of confidence after how we played against Stanford, and the energy carried over into the St. Joe’s game,” Kenagy said. “The goal against St. Joe’s would have never happened without an excellent service from Nicky Downs. I just happened to put it in a dangerous area where it took a deflection off of a defender.”

The Bulldogs looked confident in the first half, outshooting the Hawks 10–-4. Despite the high volume of shots coming from the Yale offense, the team could not finish the majority of its chances on goal in the first half, which kept the match close for the entire 90 minutes of play.

Outshooting the Elis 7–6 in the second half, the Hawks surged out of the locker room and attempted to battle back, but keeper Kees Schipper ’19 and the Bulldog defense smothered the St. Joe’s offense to earn a third shutout of the season. That marks an important milestone for the Elis, who totaled just two shutouts in 32 games in 2015 and 2016.

“I’m always happy with shutouts because you can’t ever lose when you get a shutout,” head coach Kylie Stannard said. “We have emphasized team defending as part of what is needed to have a winning mentality so it’s great to see that translate into results.”

The Elis managed to keep the Hawks’ star forward Matt Crawford from getting into a groove on Saturday. Through eight games, the Bensalem, Pennsylvania native leads his squad with 28 shots, which amounted to about 33 percent of the team’s total before Saturday’s contest against Yale. The only other Hawk with double-digit shots this year is forward Jarod Ramses, who has just 10. Crawford also leads the team in total goals with five of the Hawks’ seven.

However, after 90 minutes of soccer against the Bulldogs, Crawford was unable to get a shot off, and his own personal stat sheet showed zeros in every category.

“It’s always a gratifying feeling to see our defensive organization and effort translate to shutouts in competition,” forward John Leisman ’20 said. “If we can continue to focus on keeping a clean sheet, we will put ourselves in a great position to get results.”

For the past few weeks, the team has been working on maintaining possession for longer periods of time, which takes pressure off the defense by limiting the opposing team’s potential for shots on goal.

After watching his team win a scrappy game on the road, Stannard said he is extremely impressed with the way his defense has been playing this season. Within his system, Stannard has stressed the importance of every player’s role when playing defense.

“We have emphasized team defending as part of what is needed to have a winning mentality, so it’s great to see that translate into results,” Stannard said. “The team has been good overall, but our center mids, backline and goalkeeping have been especially strong so far and are critical to compete in the Ivy League.”

Looking ahead in their schedule, the Elis will kick off Ivy League play at home when they take on rival Harvard next Saturday.

Cristofer Zillo | cris.zillo@yale.edu