The Yale men’s soccer team had a chance on Tuesday to build momentum in a midweek, nonconference clash that could carry it for the remainder of Ivy League play. But in the waning moments against Lafayette, the Bulldogs surrendered two goals and returned to New Haven trying to put the pieces together after another stunning last-minute loss.
The Elis (3–6–1, 0–1–1 Ivy) resume Ivy League play on Saturday against Cornell (6–3–2, 1–0–1). Although Yale tied reigning Ivy League co-champion Dartmouth 2–2 in its second conference match of the season, all the momentum that carried over from that game was flattened by a 2–1 overtime defeat against Lafayette on Tuesday.
“We’re excited to get back after it on Saturday and compete against a good Ivy opponent,” defender Andrew Carton ’20 said. “Our league is open for the taking this year, and we expect to bring the energy and quality necessary to get a win over the weekend.”
Tuesday’s defeat against Lafayette was eerily similar to the team’s 2–1 loss against Harvard on Sept. 30. After a scrappy first half in which neither team could find the back of the net, midfielder Mark Winhoffer ’21 scored his first goal in a Yale uniform in the 51st minute to give the Bulldogs the lead. But with fewer than two minutes to play, Lafayette forward Martin Ssessanga found the back of the net for the Leopards and sent the game into extra time.
In the final minute of the first overtime period, midfielder Ryan Goncalves crossed the ball to Lafayette’s leading scorer, forward Evan Vare, who controlled the ball with his chest and volleyed it over goalkeeper Tom Wallenstein ’21 to put away the Bulldogs for good. Looking forward after the loss, head coach Kylie Stannard said his team must be more composed at the crucial junctures in games.
“We need to defend better in critical moments to close out games, and we need to have more belief, composure and decision making on the ball,” Stannard said.
The Bulldogs made some history in last year’s 3–0 win against Cornell. It marked the team’s first road win since 2013 and its first road victory against an Ivy League opponent since 2011. When Cornell visits on Saturday, Yale will again have an opportunity to accomplish a feat that has eluded it since 2013. With a win, Yale will post its highest season win total since that 2013 campaign.
But a win will not come easy against a stout Cornell team. The Big Red has doubled Yale’s win total so far this season and recently rallied to defeat nationally-ranked No. 11 Syracuse in overtime. Cornell handily defeated Lafayette 3–1 on Sept. 10.
Like Yale, Cornell relies on numerous young players. The Big Red offense is headed this season by rookie midfielder Tommy Hansan, who has racked up a total of four goals on 18 shots, leading the team in both categories. Forward George Pedlow completes the tandem up top and was awarded Ivy League Player of the Week honors for scoring the lone goal. The sophomore from London ranks second on the team in goals scored and shots attempted, with three and 17, respectively. Last year, he was the first to score against Syracuse, which was ranked No. 2 at that point in the season.
Aside from Yale’s 2–2 tie against Dartmouth, in which the team rallied after being down two goals, the Bulldogs have looked timid in the second half of games.
Although the Bulldogs have yet to win a game in Ivy League play, the team still feels it is in contention for a title. If Yale were to win its remaining five Ivy League games and Columbia, Dartmouth and Harvard dropped points, the Bulldogs would capture their first conference title since 2005.
“With a win this upcoming Saturday, we would still be very much in contention for the Ivy League,” forward John Leisman ’20 said. “So we’ll push ourselves this week in training and be ready to go come game time.”
Saturday’s game at Reese Stadium kicks off at 5 p.m.
Cristofer Zillo | firstname.lastname@example.org