Steve Musco

Robert Mooney ’19 has already left his mark on the Yale Athletics history as a starter for the men’s lacrosse team, which won a national championship this year.

But Mooney has now set a new challenge for himself — putting a second Yale team into the history books, as he trades his lacrosse stick for shin guards this fall and suits up for the Yale men’s soccer team.

“Every team has different dynamics, goals and expectations and it is exciting to be a part of a program on the upswing and seeking their first Ivy League title in some time,” Mooney, a high school soccer player, said of joining the team. “Coming from a team that has achieved its loftiest goal, I hope that I can help the [soccer] team accomplish [their own goals]. It’s just amazing to be out on the field playing again.”

For the past three years, 6-foot-4 long-stick midfielder has been a solid presence for the Yale men’s lacrosse team. Mooney earned second-team All-Ivy honors during the 2018 season when the Bulldogs clinched the school’s first-ever NCAA National Championship.

In addition to playing in nearly every game, the Princeton, New Jersey native has been a steady force on defense and an offensive threat in transition due to his speed. Head coach Kyle Stannard and the men’s soccer team will look to channel that speed and goal-scoring instinct on the pitch this fall, with Mooney listed on the roster as a forward.

“I am still definitely rusty given my time away from playing, three and a half years, but it feels as though it is coming back fairly quickly,” Mooney said. “It’s going to be very exciting participating in a real game again and I can’t wait to see the team put together a solid performance to cap off a great preseason.”

Mooney is no stranger to the soccer field. At the Lawrenceville School, Mooney excelled at both lacrosse and soccer, serving as the captain of each team during his senior year. However, an injury during his junior soccer season left him behind in the recruiting process. Once he recovered, an exceptional lacrosse season put him in a good position heading into the summer, during which he attended lacrosse camps and came into contact with multiple collegiate coaches.

Despite initially choosing lacrosse, Mooney’s passion for soccer never waned. So heading into his senior year, he approached Stannard to see if he could become a two-sport athlete for the Bulldogs. After a successful tryout, the other players quickly opened their arms to Mooney, and he joined the rest of the team for preseason practice beginning Aug. 9.

Last season, the men’s soccer team finished tied for third in the Ivy League, its highest finish under Stannard and best result since winning the conference in the 2005 season. But the Bulldogs are setting their sights higher this season, and Mooney’s championship experience may be part of the recipe for Yale to break through to finish at the top of the conference.

“Having been a part of a championship-winning team, Mooney adds a ton of experience, as well as a daily mentality that is consistent with what we want to achieve,” forward John Leisman ’20 said. “Our goal for this year is to win the Ivy League championship and, as a result, give ourselves an opportunity to make a run in the tournament.”

Mooney will join Leisman, last year’s leading goal-scorer Kyle Kenagy ’19 and several young players on a rapidly improving Yale offense. With his size and athleticism, Mooney will no doubt make an impact on the soccer team this fall, before returning to Reese Stadium in the spring for his final season of lacrosse.

The Yale men’s soccer team officially begins its 2018 season Friday at 5:15 p.m. against Niagara.

Jane Miller | jane.s.miller@yale.edu