Yale Athletics

Rock, paper, scissors. Shoot! A trip to the nation’s capital did not go quite as planned for the Yale men’s soccer team this weekend. Inclement weather caused its first match against Howard to be canceled, with the teams resorting to playing rock, paper, scissors to decide the winner. Two days later, the Elis lost 3–1 to No. 20 Georgetown after the game was moved to George Washington due to the downpour.

The Bulldogs (1–2–0, 0–0–0 Ivy) traveled to Washington, D.C., in preparation for a pair of matches against Howard (1–2–0, 0–0–0 Sun Belt) and Georgetown (3–1–1, 0–0–0 Big East). But, Mother Nature had another plan in mind.

“Always difficult and disappointing to have a game cancelled,” head coach Kylie Stannard said. “Especially when you come a long ways and have to wait out the weather to see what happens. These things can happen in outdoor sports, so most of these guys have been through something similar in the past. If anything, it gave us a little more energy and excitement for the Georgetown game.”

Moving on from the unexpected cancellation, the Bulldogs took the field against the Hoyas on Sunday but came up short in a 3–1 loss. The match marked the first time the two schools have met on the field since Stannard took over in the fall of 2015.

The Hoyas wasted no time getting down to business at the starting whistle. Midfielder Kyle Zajec scored the opening goal for Georgetown just 2.5-minutes into the game when he connected with a rebound at the top of the box and deposited it in the back of the net.

The early tally would not go unanswered by the Elis. Midfielder Nicky Downs ’19 attacked from the left side and put an unassisted goal on record for the Bulldogs, firing a shot inside the far post. Yale maintained momentum in the following minutes with forward John Leisman ’20, midfielder Miguel Yuste ’20 and defender Cameron Riach ’19 all firing at the Hoya goalkeeper.

“We found success in the first 45 because we were organized defensively and able to win a lot of 50-50 balls that allowed us to transition into attack,” Leisman said. “We just weren’t as sharp in the second half and didn’t use our set piece opportunities to their full potential.”

However, the game would remain tied for the remainder of the first half. By halftime, the Elis took to the locker rooms level on the scoreboard despite having been outplayed on the field — they were outshot 14–6 and surpassed in corner kicks 7–1.

In the second half, the Hoya tide finally broke the Bulldog backline. Georgetown came out of the break with an explosive offensive energy and quickly seized advantage. Forward Derek Dodson put the Hoyas in the lead with a smart finish after teammate midfielder Ethan Lochner sent a precise ball over the Bulldog backline.

It remained a one-goal game until the final 10 minutes when Georgetown sealed the victory with an insurance goal. Hoya junior forward Ifunanyachi Achara fired a shot just inside the right post after teammate Jacob Montes threaded the needle with a through ball.

“We had a good, compact defensive shape during the first half, which helped us to keep the fast strikers of Georgetown under control,” goalkeeper Tom Wallenstein ’21 said. “Moreover, we could break their pressing with calm and confident passing a couple of times. In the second half, we, unfortunately, weren’t able to connect as many passes as we were in the first half, so it became more difficult to relieve their pressure.”

The loss marks the Bulldogs’ second defeat in three games. After opening the season with a newfound offensive energy, the Elis seemed to be stifled by the Georgetown defense which held them to only eight shots, half of what they had been averaging coming into the game.

“We played very well in the first half,” Stannard said. “We didn’t seem tentative at all to start, but we lost our composure and confidence some in the second half, and we struggled to deal with the pace and defensive tenacity from Georgetown in the second half. This is only our third game, so we are still learning some things about ourselves and how we can manage things better over the course of 90 minutes.”

The Bulldogs have their first game back at Reese Stadium against Michigan State on Friday at 7 p.m.

Cate Sawkins | cate.sawkins@yale.edu