After a promising league win at home against Cornell last weekend, the Yale men’s soccer team hit the road to play Penn only to lose the momentum it had built in a blow-out.
The Elis (4–7–1, 1–2–1 Ivy) were handed their seventh loss of the season under the lights of Rhodes Field on Saturday, losing 4–1 to a struggling Penn (3–9–1, 1–2–1) team. The Quakers, who entered the contest on a three-game losing streak, bounced back against Yale, scoring a convincing four goals — the first of which came from an early penalty kick. Yale’s lone tally was scored by midfielder Miguel Yuste ’20, who one-timed a short clearance by Penn’s goalkeeper Scott Forbes.
“I thought the early penalty call against us was very unlucky, and it rattled us some,” head coach Kylie Stannard said. “We knew Penn had some dangerous attacking pieces, and everything seemed to be clicking for them against us, unfortunately. I was actually really pleased with how we played overall after the first 15 minutes, so that is certainly a positive because that is the large majority of the game.”
Last weekend, the Bulldogs managed to hold on to 1–0 lead against Cornell. The team has struggled all season in the second half of its games, rarely able to find the back of the net despite creating numerous opportunities. Two disheartening losses, one against Harvard and the other against Lafayette, have stemmed from blown leads in the final 45 minutes. The Elis finally closed out a game, this time against the Big Red, and looked to carry their confidence and momentum into another conference matchup.
But it was the beginning of the match that doomed the Bulldogs on Saturday. In the first 15 minutes, Yale quickly fell 3–0 down, setting up a game of catch-up for the Elis. Penn midfielder Joe Swenson scored the opening goal on a penalty kick just five minutes into the game after the Yale defense fouled midfielder Jake Kohlbrenner inside the box.
The momentum continued as Kohlbrenner scored for Penn in the ninth minute off an assist from Swenson. The dynamic Quaker offense continued to pass by the Eli defense, scoring yet another goal just four minutes later. Again, it was Swenson with the honors, shooting from the upper right corner of the box after a setup from forward Jerel Blades.
“[Giving up three goals in] the first 15 minutes of the game should never happen,” Yuste said. “After those 15 minutes, we were a lot more composed and combined decently well without giving up, which showed character and improvement from everyone.”
The Elis pushed back against the emboldened Quakers, tallying a goal and generating several offensive opportunities. In the 21st minute, a floating long ball forced Penn goalie Forbes outside the box for a clearance. However, his clear fell short of the midfield line and onto the foot of Yuste, who volleyed the ball over the Quaker defense and the retreating Forbes, dashing Penn’s hope of a shutout with a highlight goal.
For the rest of the first half, Yale defenders Justin Lobe ’20, Cameron Riach ’19 and Andrew Carton ’20 kept up the pressure on the Quakers, holding them scoreless for the remainder of the period. Despite trailing 3–1 at halftime, Yale narrowly outshot Penn 5–4 in the first 45 minutes.
“I thought the score did not reflect [Saturday’s] game, but soccer is a game where anything can happen,” forward Kyle Kenagy ’19 said. “We bounced back very well after Penn’s first few goals and dominated the rest of the game.”
The Elis continued to outshoot the Quakers in the second half, this time by a 9–4 advantage, but it was Penn who found the back of the net yet again for the period’s lone goal. In the 64th minute, Swenson finished his impressive hat trick with help from midfielder Dami Omitaomu to increase Penn’s lead. Swenson’s offensive explosion against Yale came as no surprise. Before this matchup against the Bulldogs, the New York native led the Quakers with four goals. With his hat trick on Saturday, the senior now leads the Ivy League in goals alongside Dartmouth forward Eduvie Ikoba.
Despite Yale’s efforts, the score remained at 4–1 as time expired, marking the team’s second loss in the league this year. With the defeat, the Bulldogs now sit six points behind Dartmouth in the Ivy League standings.
“Unfortunately, we dug a really deep hole and despite all the possession and chances created, we weren’t able to put away our chances,” Stannard said. “However, to dominate chances like we did is always a positive.”
The Elis will continue conference play when they travel to take on last season’s Ivy League co-champion Columbia on Sunday.
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