After an exciting 0–0 draw against Brown last weekend, the Yale men’s soccer team will look to close out its season with a second conference win of the campaign for the first time since 2013.
The Bulldogs (4–9–2, 1–3–2 Ivy) travel to New Jersey to finish their 2017 slate against Princeton (6–6–4, 2–2–2) at Myslik Field. Yale has won only two conference games since the end of that 2013 season, so a victory would represent a step forward for the program. The only thing standing in Yale’s way are the Tigers, a team currently on a three-game winning streak and looking to lock up a top-half finish.
“There is still so much to play for in this final game, which is always for Yale pride, but also getting another win for our seniors to make additional progress for the program, and mathematically, we can still finish third with a win and depending on how other games play out,” head coach Kylie Stannard said. “That would be a pretty awesome accomplishment and that’s what we are shooting for.”
The Elis honored their three seniors before taking on Brown in their last match of the year at Reese Stadium on Saturday. Both Yale and the Bears were trigger happy, taking 16 and 15 total shots, respectively. With high shot totals, both teams had chances to score, but neither squad managed to find the back of the net. Yale had a chance to steal away a win in the final 10 minutes of regulation when midfielder Miguel Yuste ’20 fired a ball from the top of the box, but it sailed agonizingly above the crossbar.
The lack of a tally at the end of two extra periods can be credited to the stellar play of both goalkeepers, each of whom recorded five saves. Andrew Bortey ’20 made his third career start for the Elis, deflecting shot after shot and preventing his squad from adding another loss to the season’s totals. Bortey made his most exciting stop of Saturday’s matchup with five minutes left in regulation, when he punched a shot from Brown midfielder Nico Lozada over the crossbar, recording the first shutout of his career.
“We can go into the Princeton game with a lot of confidence, knowing how great our defense has been,” Bortey said. “Our commitment to tracking runners on the defensive end was exceptional in the Brown game, and I believe if we can apply this in the Princeton game, we’ll be in a strong position.”
The Princeton offense has been carried this season by junior forward Jeremy Colvin, who has tallied five goals on 47 total shots this season — 25 of which have been on target. Nine other Tigers have netted over the course of the year, but none have more than two goals.
Last season’s matchup between the Bulldogs and the Tigers ended 1–1. Despite not walking away with a win in the final game of last year’s campaign, the Elis managed to hold the high-powered Princeton offense to only one goal, an impressive feat considering the Tigers were the highest-scoring team in the Ivy League.
The Bulldog defense has been the team’s strength this season, as it looks to quell the Tiger attack. The backline has shown tremendous growth over the course of the season, keeping three more shutouts than a year ago despite the rotating cast of goalkeepers behind it. That defensive solidity has been important for Yale, given its offensive woes.
The Elis have struggled to find the net this season, especially in the second half of games. Five Bulldogs have scored twice, but no individual has stood out in the crowd. Yale has scored only 12 goals in its 15 games, and has been blanked on six occasions. Despite these travails, the season still represents an improvement on the doldrums of years past.
“Although we are no longer in contention for the Ivy title, we’re treating every game as an opportunity to prove what we are capable of,” forward John Leisman ’20 said. “We want to win regardless of the circumstances and ending the season with a road victory would help propel us into an important offseason.”
The game will kick off at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Cristofer Zillo | firstname.lastname@example.org