In a midweek match on Tuesday, the Yale men’s soccer team dominated Bryant University in a comprehensive 4–0 victory on the road to continue its positive momentum after a thrilling Friday night tie against No. 4 Michigan State.
The Bulldogs (2–2–1, 0–0–0 Ivy) travelled to Rhode Island to face a winless opponent in Bryant (0–6–1, 0–0–0 NEC). The steady rain didn’t stop the game, and a close turnaround from a game against the Spartans didn’t stop the Elis as they rolled over the opposition to continue their momentum.
“The team did a great job creating chances and putting away four goals, all while maintaining a clean sheet,” captain and defender Cameron Riach ’19 said. “It was great to be able to get a convincing away win coming off of a tough battle against Michigan State. We’re all pleased with the result, but certainly still have things to work on and clean up before Ivy play.”
Bryant took the first shot of the game, but Yale quickly took over and controlled the game. The Bulldogs maintained possession for the majority of the match, beaming with confidence and control. The first half was punctuated by numerous offensive chances for the Elis, with little offensive play originating from the home team. Midfielder Miguel Yuste ’20 set the tone for Yale’s dominance in the match early on, when his curling free kick was punched out by the goalie, one of many close chances for the Elis.
Yale’s opening goal came in the 33rd minute. Yuste swiftly dribbled the ball down the right side and sent it inward to Paolo Carroll ’22, who sent the ball back to Yuste in give-and-go around the Bryant defenders. With the goalie charging out of the net to narrow the angle, Yuste chipped the ball over the top and into the back of the net for an Eli advantage.
“We had a couple of good chances in the first minutes of the game, where Paolo, [midfielder] Nicky [Downs ’19] and I were able to get in behind their defense,” Yuste said. “In my goal, Paolo was able to get away from his marker, turn and play me in behind, I took a touch, saw the goalkeeper coming out and chipped it over him. The chemistry between us [attacking players] is great, we understand each other well and it will get better and better as the season develops and we get into the Ivy games.”
Just four minutes later, the Elis put another tally on the board. After a Bryant clear was headed back into play by a running Ryan Matteo ’20, forward Aldo Quevedo ’21 flicked the ball to Downs’ feet. The midfielder eluded a Bryant defender and shot at goal — his effort deflected off the Bryant goalie into the back of the net for a 2–0 advantage.
Meanwhile, the Bryant offense attempted a series of ineffective long balls as the Eli backline held its ground and halted any advances into the box. When Bryant did find an opportunity to shoot, the attempts came from distance. A 26th-minute rocket from long range forced Eli goalkeeper Tom Wallenstein ’21 to make a diving save in defense of the upper post, just tipping it over the top. However, speculative drives and the occasional set piece proved the best offense Bryant could muster in the opening frame.
Although the Elis thoroughly controlled the game in the first half, the Bryant refused to roll over and play dead. Yale spent the first five minutes of the second half on its heels, withstanding multiple attacks from the re-energized Bryant forwards.
But Yale soon shrugged Bryant off, creating its first scoring chance of the half at the hour mark. A pinpoint Yuste free kick found Riach, who leapt above the Bryant defender with ease and sent a looping header into the back of the net. The Elis were ready to celebrate, but the referee waved the goal off, calling a foul on Riach. Still, it was clear the Elis had regained their stride.
Moments later, Yale put the game away for good. In the 71st minute, first-year phenom Carroll went through on goal after a clever run behind the defense, only for the Bryant keeper to produce an impressive save. On the ensuing corner, Downs swung in a perfectly placed cross to the head of Riach, who sent the ball back into the middle. Carroll pounced on the loose ball without hesitation, sending it into the goal seconds before colliding with the Bryant keeper.
At this point, the Elis were in total control of the game, but Wallenstein remained determined to keep his clean sheet and sustain Yale’s momentum. The sophomore keeper added three more saves in the second half, for an impressive total of six.
At the end of an already impressive showing by the Elis, forward DJ Palmer ’21 put a cherry on top of the cake, capping the program’s biggest offensive explosion in head coach Kylie Stannard’s tenure. With two minutes remaining, Palmer found the ball at his feet nearly 30 yards from the goal and took off on a blazing run to his right. After passing three defenders, he fired a low shot into the left corner of the goal, leaving the Bryant goalkeeper rooted to his spot.
“After coming off a good performance against Michigan State it was important for us to keep the momentum going and get a win against Bryant on the road,” Palmer said. “I got subbed in when we were already up a few goals so as a team we were prioritizing possessing the ball and seeing out the game. But I saw an open lane and decided take the opportunity [to score].”
The Elis take on George Mason this Friday at Reese at 7 p.m.
Cate Sawkins | firstname.lastname@example.org
Eamonn Smith | email@example.com