Last weekend against Harvard, the Yale men’s soccer team came within seven minutes of exceeding its 2016 win total. Bouncing back this weekend after conceding to the Crimson twice in a four-minute span will be difficult — especially with the two-time reigning Ivy League champions, who have not lost since Sept. 4, coming to New Haven.
The Bulldogs (3–5–0, 0–1–0 Ivy) will play their second straight home game on Saturday, this time against No. 15 Dartmouth (7–2–0, 1–0–0), as they look to regain momentum after last week’s devastating 2–1 loss to the Crimson. The Big Green has won its last seven games including its Ivy opener against Princeton.
Last week’s defeat was a heartbreaker for Yale. The Bulldogs controlled the flow for the majority of the match, and after a well-struck rebound goal from forward Aldo Quevedo ’21, the team led after the first 45 minutes of play. Coming out of the second half, the Elis continued to dominate possession and shut down any potential danger at the defensive end. In a quick turn of events, however, Harvard bounced back late and scored two quick goals in the space of four minutes to upset the Blue at Reese Stadium.
“[The Harvard] game serves as a reminder of what Ivy League play is like, where scenarios can change rapidly and you have to be prepared to prevent that from happening,” forward John Leisman ’20 said. “However, you have to be able to move on from heartbreaking defeats and the week ahead will be entirely focused on Dartmouth.”
Despite falling 1–0 to both Michigan State and Michigan in the first two games of the season, Dartmouth has been demolishing every team in its path, outscoring opponents 18–3 through nine matches. One of its most decisive victories, a 5–2 rout, came against Vermont, a team that defeated Yale in a 1–0 shutout.
Dartmouth’s offense boasts a plethora of dangerous players, six of whom have a goal to their name this season. The Big Green’s leading scorer is defender Wyatt Omsberg, who has tallied four goals in nine games. The Scarborough, Maine native racked up numerous awards last year, including 2016 Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year and NSCAA Third Team All-American.
The second-leading scorer for Dartmouth is Justin Donawa, who also leads the team in shots with 21. His trigger-happy nature has carried over from last season, when he also led the team high with 44 shots. To have a chance at defeating the juggernaut from Hanover, the Bulldogs will look to shut down both Omsberg and Donawa on the defensive end.
“We plan on staying to what we have been doing — being tactically sound and being the hardest working team on the pitch,” midfielder Mark Winhoffer ’21 said. “We have to follow what coach says and trust in our ability. Defense will be a big part of the match but we will also have to continue to be good in possession and continue to be clinical in the attacking third.”
Yale’s defensive game plan has been solid thus far this season, as all three of the team’s victories have come by way of a shutout. But the offense has looked flat, despite scoring at least one goal in each of the last three games.
The Bulldog offense has been unable to finish the majority of their chances on goal this season. They have been especially underwhelming in the second half of games, where they have yet to find the back of the net this season. Despite his team’s offensive woes, head coach Kylie Stannard is optimistic about his team’s chances going into the rest of Ivy League play.
“Overall, we have done a good job of learning from our mistakes in games and not allowing the same mistakes to happen more than once, so we are confident that we will keep improving and will eliminate these same mistakes from happening in future games,” Stannard said. “Ivy League games are extra intense, with even more energy and emotion, and I think we can improve our composure in future games. This is a good group, and we are confident we will respond positively.”
Reese Stadium will host the contest at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Cristofer Zillo | email@example.com