As temperatures rise, so do expectations for the Yale men’s soccer team. Last season, the Elis finished with an overall record of 5–9–2 and 2–3–2 in Ivy play. They scored 13 goals in 16 games and tied for third in the league ahead of Cornell, Penn and Harvard.
But this fall, the Bulldogs welcome back a strong squad, including leading scorer Aldo Quevedo ’21 and veterans Miguel Yuste ’20 and Kyle Kenagy ’19. The Elis also welcome seven first years onto the roster — goalkeeper Elian Haddock, defensemen Jeremy Haddock and Lazaros Efthymiou, midfielders Enzo Okpoye and Will Seidman, and forwards Logan Sullivan and Paolo Carroll.
“This group is very determined to leave the jersey in a better place,” head coach Kylie Stannard said. “They want to cherish each opportunity to be together every day… If they can maintain that level of determination, unity and belief, good things will happen.”
With new blood comes new perspective, this year’s newcomers hail from around the country and around the world. The Haddock twins were born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and lived in five different countries including South Korea, China, Switzerland and most recently the United States — in Wisconsin. Okpoye hails from Asaba, Nigeria and attended boarding school at the Blair Academy in New Jersey before taking his talents to New Haven. Efthymiou comes from Lakatamia, Cyprus, and Carroll, a Sao Paulo, Brazil-native, has also lived in the United Kingdom.
The Bulldogs are also welcoming two additions of a different kind. Robert Mooney ’19, a defender on the Yale men’s lacrosse team, has joined the squad this year. Mooney played both soccer and lacrosse in high school and is coming off a historic National Championship victory as part of the lacrosse squad. The senior brings new energy and experience to the team, and he is even leading the Elis in the Yale Fight Song — a new addition to their locker room routine this season.
“We have more depth this year than in the past, so everything is very competitive,” Stannard said. “I think our first years are a very mature and disciplined group overall and have made a very smooth transition so far. There are some guys that bring some great size and physicality.”
Additionally, the Elis welcomed Neil Patrick Harris as the new director of operations and player personnel to replace Nate Kopunek. Returning assistant coaches T.J. Love and Jonathan Welsh and volunteer goalkeeping coach Drew Nucifora round out Stannard’s coaching staff this season.
This year the Ivy League started a new tradition. In the conference’s first-ever preseason poll, the Bulldogs placed sixth with 51 points, ahead of both Cornell and Harvard. Defending Ivy Champions No. 16 Dartmouth topped the poll with 123 points.
“In comparison to last season we made a huge step forward,” Tom Wallenstein ’21 said. “The inner-squad competition has never been as high as it is right now. Looking forward, I think this competition will help improve the results from last year.”
This year’s team is led by captain and four-year starting defenseman Cameron Riach ’19. He is joined by seven fellow seniors — Kees Schipper, James Kochanski, Lucas Kirby, Kenagy, Nicky Downs, Mooney, Allec Willis and An Le. Stannard praised the group for its integration of the first years and its raising of standards and expectations for the program this year.
Once season play commences with the home opener on Friday, the squad will be busy, squeezing two matches per week into its training schedule. But once Ivy League play begins at the end of September, the team will play just one game per week as it vies for the championship. The team will taste its first Ancient Eight action at the end of September when it plays Harvard. Last year’s battle ended in a heartbreaking 2–1 loss, as the Crimson rallied to score two goals in the final ten minutes.
“This is the most talented group that we’ve had in years,” Riach said. “I’m excited to see what we can achieve this season. The team has been firing on all cylinders this preseason as we prep for our opener this Friday against Niagara.”
The Elis will kick off their 2018–19 season against the Purple Eagles this Friday at 5:15 p.m. at Quinnipiac Sports Complex due to ongoing renovations at Reese Stadium.
Cate Sawkins | firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction, Sep. 4: A previous version of this article omitted the name of An Le ’19 among the list of seniors in the men’s soccer team.