The Yale men’s soccer team has been stuck on four wins since Oct. 14. After two straight conference losses, Yale — still looking for an elusive fifth win — faced Connecticut on Tuesday night.
But the Huskies spooked the Bulldogs in the Halloween game in Storrs. In its final nonconference contest of the season, Yale (4–9–1, 1–3–1 Ivy) fell 2–0 to Connecticut (8–6–2, 4–2–0 American). Tuesday night’s game was reminiscent of the Elis’ 4–1 loss to Penn, when an early penalty kick went against Yale and forced the Bulldogs to unsuccessfully play catch up. Playing on just 48 hours of rest, the Bulldogs dropped their ninth-straight game to the Huskies.
“We did very well considering the quick turnaround from Sunday, and UConn is as talented as anyone we have played, and one of the most athletic teams in the country,” head coach Kylie Stannard said. “We still need to improve some concentration consistency and limit some mistakes that are very costly. We didn’t track well, which led to their penalty kick, and then a careless turnover led to the second goal at a time where we were having the better of the play.”
UConn opened the scoring in the 21st minute after Yale conceded a penalty kick. Forward Abdou Thiam slotted the kick into the back of the net to put his team up 1–0. The Huskies dominated in the first half, posting six shots to Yale’s two and holding a 5–0 advantage in corner kicks.
Andrew Bortey ’20 made his second career start and first of the season in goal for the Elis. According to Stannard, Bortey had been performing well enough in training to earn himself a start in this week’s midweek nonconference match. His start was meant to gauge his abilities against a tough opponent. The sophomore made six saves in his 90 minutes in the net, conceding just one goal from open play.
“Having the players that we have on this team made things much easier for me and their communication and leadership were massive in helping me settle into my first game this season and do my best for the team, which fought extremely hard tonight,” Bortey said. “The defense was very sharp and stopped many of UConn’s dangerous chances.”
After the slow start in the first 45 minutes, the Bulldogs matched the Huskies level of play in the second half. Both teams finished the half with six shots and three corner kicks.
Despite the barrage of Yale attempts at an equalizer, UConn put the game away with a second goal in the 57th minute. Midfielder Niko Petridis doubled the lead on a breakaway, receiving the ball from Thiam and slotting it into the corner.
“I didn’t think we played badly,” defender Justin Lobe ’20 said. “We were still recovering from the quick turnaround from Columbia on Sunday. Other than on a couple mistakes, UConn had a lot of trouble breaking us down, and when they did, Bortey was able to make some amazing saves to keep us in the game.”
Yale will have to bury the memory of Tuesday’s loss quickly. The Bulldogs return to action on Saturday for their final home game of the season. The Elis will face Brown on Saturday before traveling to Princeton on Nov. 11 for their season finale.
The Bears come into Saturday’s matchup after falling 1–0 to Hofstra. Before that loss, Brown had been riding a two-game win streak. The Bears’ offense is led by forward Toby Howell this year. The Florida native and Marquette transfer leads the team in both goals scored and shots taken this season, with five and 37, respectively.
In last year’s matchup between the Bears and the Bulldogs, the two teams were deadlocked heading into the waning moments but scored two goals in the final two minutes of the second half.
“UConn was by far the best team we’ve played this year,” midfielder Mark Winhoffer ’21 said. “We kept the game in reach and had a lot of good chances. We just need to start converting them and not gift the other team with easy opportunities. We are looking good for our last two Ivy games.”
The match against Brown kicks off at 7 p.m. under the lights of Reese Stadium on Saturday.
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