Without a multi-win Ivy League season since 2013, the Yale men’s soccer team has three opportunities to remedy that stat, starting this weekend with a matchup against last year’s conference co-champion Columbia.

The Bulldogs (4–7–1, 1–2–1 Ivy) will travel to New York for the Sunday match against Columbia (7–2–3, 2–1–1). A quick start will be crucial for the Elis, who fell down three goals to Penn just 15 minutes into last weekend’s 4–1 defeat. Yale sits in a four-way tie for fourth in the conference standings with three Ivy games remaining, and a win this weekend could lift Yale as high as second place.

“We were not focused in the first 15 minutes [against Penn],” defender Justin Lobe ’20 said. “We were shocked by their first goal and were not able to settle down until they had scored two more. We dug ourselves a hole we couldn’t get out of.”

After the barrage of early Quaker goals, Yale midfielder Miguel Yuste ’20 tallied Yale’s lone goal of the game in the 22nd minute. Despite early setbacks, however, the Bulldogs settled into their rhythm before the end of the first half and dominated possession for the remainder of the game, totaling 14 shots and limiting Penn to just eight. Penn forward Joe Swenson scored the lone goal of the second half to complete his hat trick, but the Quaker offense was largely held in check after the explosive opening minutes.

Lobe said maintaining consistent play has been a challenge for the Eli team this season, as shown by tough losses to Harvard and nonconference opponent Saint Joseph’s earlier in the season. However, the team has improved at creating chances and maintaining possession in its last few games.

“Penn was just one of those games,” midfielder Mark Winhoffer ’21 said. “We weren’t playing bad as a whole, but we made bad mistakes in bad areas, and, to their credit, they capitalized on their chances. But, again, we showed our resilience by dominating the rest of the game and scoring.”

Columbia has followed its conference championship from last season with another dominant campaign. The Lions boast the 23rd best RPI in the nation and sit just outside of the top 25 in the coaches poll.

Columbia’s offense is led again this season by forward Arthur Bosua, a 6-foot-4-inch senior from Johannesburg, South Africa. Last season’s Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year has netted seven goals thus far, which amounts to over a third of the team’s total production this season.

Complementing Bosua’s offensive prowess, the Lions also boast a stellar defense. Five of the team’s six wins have come by way of a shutout, and the team has outscored opponents 17–6 this season. The Columbia backline is led by first-team All-Ivy defender Alex Bangerl, who has not only locked down opponents on the defensive end but also tallied five goals over the last two seasons.

Last year’s matchup featured tight competition between the Bulldogs and the Lions. Columbia only outshot Yale 9–7, and neither team found many high-quality chances to score, though the Lions’ forward Kynan Rocks netted the game’s only goal in the 48th minute.

“Last year was a tough defensive battle in which neither team had many clear-cut scoring opportunities,” captain and midfielder Archie Kinnane ’19 said. “This year the Lions are a talented team that has seen a lot of success, so we are prepared for a good challenge. We’ve been playing good soccer and have had a great week of training so far … as long as we limit mistakes and focus on what we can control, we will be able to get a good result.”

Despite the final 1–0 loss, the Bulldogs regained energy and focus in the second half and maintained better play for the remainder of the game, according to head coach Kylie Stannard. Yale’s best chance came when a header by midfielder Ryan Matteo ’20 was deflected by a Lions defender with just three minutes left on the clock.

Although the 2017 Bulldogs are six points out of first place in the Ivy League — a nearly impossible margin to make up in three games — Stannard said the team is committed to finishing the season on a high note.

“This team still has a lot to play for in each game and they are a very prideful group,” Stannard said. ”They are all focused on continuing to move the program forward.”

The Elis will kick off play against the Lions at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Selena Cho | selena.cho@yale.edu

Cristofer Zillo | cris.zillo@yale.edu