Steve Musco

Yale men’s soccer welcomes a first-year class of seven players from around the globe, ranging from Brazil and Nigeria to New York state and Wisconsin. The Bulldogs hope this diverse class can turn the program’s fortunes around and build on last season’s third-place Ivy League finish to secure their first winning season since 2011.

This group has already made its mark on the new season, playing significant roles in the season-opening 1–0 win at Quinnipiac and the narrow 2–1 loss against Fairfield, where the Bulldogs saw a 1–0 halftime lead fall by the wayside in the closing stages. Notable first-year appearances came from midfielder Logan Sullivan ’22, who recorded multiple shots on goal in the game against Quinnipiac, and striker Paolo Carroll ’22, who scored the Eli’s lone goal against Fairfield.

“The first years bring a new energy and skill set that’s different than previous years,” midfielder Mark Winhoffer ’21 said. “They have molded to our team goals and mindset. They will, and already have, made an impact on the team.”

Despite having limited practice time to adjust to their new teammates and the pace and physicality of college soccer, the Eli rookies have hit the ground running and already have made an impact, on the field and on the scoreboard.

After coming off the bench in Yale’s first contest against Niagara, Carroll entered the game against the Stags on Monday evening looking to make an immediate impact — and that he did. The Sao Paulo native controlled a long ball from forward John Leisman ’20, powered through Fairfield’s defense and calmly dispatched a smooth finish past goalkeeper Gordon Botterill.

“Paolo has been a great addition to the team,” forward Kyle Kenagy ’19 said. “We have been struggling to find a dangerous hold-up forward, and Paolo fits that role perfectly.”

Another first year ready to make his mark sooner rather than later is Enzo Okpoye ’22, who comes from Nigeria and can play defensive midfielder or center back, head coach Kylie Stannard said. Stannard also said his maturity, athleticism, soccer IQ and will to win ensure that Okpoye will always be a positive contributor to the future success and culture of the program. Okpoye started his first game for Yale in the midfield during Monday’s 2–1 loss to Fairfield. He and midfielder Will Seidman ’22 look to fill the shoes of graduated midfielders Archie Kinnane ’18 and Josh Totte ’18.

The rest of the incoming class holds a track record of success. Goalkeeper Elian Haddock ’22, from Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, helped lead his high school to three state championships, with two of those squads captained by his twin brother, defender Jeremy Haddock ’22. A third member of the international contingent, defender Lazaros Efthymiou ’22, from Cyprus, made his first-team debut as an amateur for Cypriot top-division club Anorthosis Famagusta.

The adjustment to Division I will test the first years, as it represents a significant step up from high school competition. Stannard noted that the competitiveness and small margin for error in Division I soccer require much more concentration and attention to detail. Still, he expressed confidence in his recruits’ ability to adjust and succeed.

“This group brings an especially diverse background of soccer experiences, and they generally have a high level of maturity and have already been challenged a lot in their various club backgrounds,” Stannard said. “It’s a group that is really passionate and competitive and also brings some really good size. Understanding and embracing every moment and opportunity on the field to learn is the best way for them to be successful as their careers move forward. We should truly be getting a little better each and every day.”

The Bulldogs will take on Howard in Washington, D.C., on Friday in their first away game of the season.

Bill Gallagher | william.gallagher@yale.edu

Cristofer Zillo | cris.zillo@yale.edu