With an overtime victory against Princeton, the Yale men’s soccer team closed out its 2017–18 campaign by tying for third place in the Ivy League and tallying its most overall wins in a season since 2011.
The Bulldogs (5–9–2, 2–3–2 Ivy) traveled to New Jersey for their final game of the season against conference foe Princeton (6–7–4, 2–3–2). Eerily similar to last weekend’s game against Brown, neither team was able to find the back of the net during regulation play. But with about five minutes left in the first overtime period, forward Aldo Quevedo ’21 received a pass from midfielder Miguel Yuste ’20 on the wing and he fired the ball into the bottom left corner of the net to lift the Elis to a 1–0 victory over the Tigers.
“Considering some of the tough losses we had, it would have been easy to lose focus,” head coach Kylie Stannard said. “But our guys really wanted to stick together and push forward and make more progress for the program. Getting a tie and win in the last couple games is a huge testament to our character and the growth mindset of the program. It’s still a little crazy to think we finished third, but I also think it’s deserving for this group of young men because they deserved to finally have some things work out well.”
In the opening moments of the game, Princeton and Yale seemed well matched, but as the contest progressed Yale secured a heavy advantage. The first shot came in the second minute from Yuste, but it was blocked by the Princeton defense, marking the first of 11 Eli shots that would be blocked or sent wide. The Tiger offense would soon mount its own counterattack in the 19th minute, with a shot by defender James Reiner that bounced off the crossbar. A corner kick in the 22nd minute by midfielder Nicky Downs ’19 allowed defender Will Emerson ’20 to place a header on goal, but the effort was saved by Princeton goalkeeper Jacob Schachner, who would make three saves in Saturday’s contest.
The Eli offense heated up toward the end of the half, however, outshooting the Tigers 6–2 in the first 45 minutes. In the final eight minutes of the first half, Yale fired off another three shots, two from Quevedo and one from Yuste, though all three went either high or wide.
Heading into a scoreless second half, it was Princeton’s Kevin O’Toole who had the opening say. His shot on goal forced goalkeeper Andrew Bortey ’20 to make his first save of the game. Despite shooting evenly with the Elis in the second half 4–4 and taking a 4–2 advantage in overall corner kicks, the Tigers could not get past the Bulldog defense. Princeton was also plagued by 12 fouls in the second half alone.
The Eli backline allowed for only seven shots on Saturday. In only his third start of the season, Bortey’s two saves in Saturday’s game gave Yale its fifth shutout of the season. The shutout was Bortey’s second of his career shutout, following last week’s clean sheet against Brown.
In overtime, early Eli pressure rattled the Tigers. Just 20 seconds into play, a shot by forward and midfielder John Leisman ’20 on goal forced Schachner to make his third save of the night, barely blocking the shot with his toes. Just a minute later, another Yale shot, this time by forward Kyle Kenagy ’19, flew wide of goal.
After Tiger defender Bobby Hickson took a stab at goal with a header in the 93rd minute, it was the Bulldogs’ Quevedo who scored the winning tally. Off a header from midfielder Josh Totte ’18, Yuste settled the ball and served a running Quevedo by chipping the ball over the Tiger defense. Quevedo finessed around the Tiger left-back to fire a shot into the bottom left corner of the goal, eluding a diving Schachner.
“I saw the space diagonally behind their defense and drifted in to position myself,” Quevedo said. “Without even calling for it, Miguel read the play and led me with his pass towards the goal, where I was able to hit it across the frame to score. It was a really special moment for the team to be able to end the season on a high, especially in honor for our seniors that have given so much to this program.”
Having eclipsed the Tigers 13–7 in total attempts, the Bulldogs have successfully outshot every Ivy League opponent this season. Despite the numerous chances it has created this season, though, the team has struggled find the back of the net, only scoring 13 goals in 16 games.
Bortey made his fourth career start in goal for the Bulldogs in Saturday’s game, and the goalkeeper added two saves to his season tally after 94 minutes. Despite starting three different goalkeepers over the course of the season, Yale has managed to maintain defensive chemistry throughout the year, totaling six shutouts in 16 games.
With Saturday’s overtime win against the Tigers, Yale reached eight points in the Ivy League. The tally was good enough to boost the Bulldogs into a three-way tie with Brown and Princeton for a third-place finish in the conference.
The finish is Yale’s highest since 2005 and a drastic improvement on the team’s winless Ivy seasons in 2014 and 2015.
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