The Yale men’s soccer team struggled under the lights against a tough University of Vermont squad, falling to the Catamounts 3–0 at Reese Stadium on Thursday night.
The Bulldogs (4–4–2, 0–1–1 Ivy) failed to find a spark against Vermont (9–4–0, 2–1–0 America East) in a one-sided New England matchup. The first half ended with Yale only trailing by a goal, but an offensive explosion by the Catamounts in the second half saw the game become the Elis’ worst defeat so far this season.
“The mentality wasn’t there today,” midfielder Mark Winhoffer ’21 said. “It has been the only hiccup this year. We are on to the next one — Cornell, highest rank in our league. Huge game for our season.”
The game got off to a hectic start early as both teams made dangerous runs at goal. In the fourth minute, midfielder Nicky Downs ’19 nearly put striker Paolo Carroll ’22 through on goal with a clever outside-foot pass, but the Vermont goalkeeper arrived just in time to break up the play.
Vermont took this early break for the Bulldogs in stride and responded with a clever move. Two minutes after the Yale opportunity, defender Arnar Steinn Hansson sent Justin Freitas through on goal with a looped through ball, but Tom Wallenstein ’21 was up to the task. The goalkeeper threw himself in the path of the Vermont forward, snatching the ball from his feet. The play was nullified anyway, as the side official had already raised a flag for offside.
Yale soccer supporters were likely surprised to see midfield maestro Winhoffer falling back on defense in the first half. The midfielder, who usually attacks, shouldered the responsibility of a central defensive role and seemed unfazed about the different positioning as he helped quell multiple Vermont attacks in the first half.
“I play for team, positions don’t matter to me,” Winhoffer said. “[Head] Coach Stannard knows what he is doing and has the trust in the players he puts out there.”
The Catamounts bossed play for nearly the entire game and in the 19th minute, they saw their dominance reward. Dangerous midfielder Joe Morrison muscled past multiple Yale defenders down the byline and sent a ball in to forward Geo Alves. The former Rhode Island Gatorade Player of the Year slotted the pass into the bottom-right corner, leaving Wallenstein with little chance to make a save.
The Bulldogs, a resilient side throughout the early season, stormed back with passion. In the 22nd minute, two seniors combined to give Yale its best scoring chance of the half. Downs sent a perfectly weighted lob onto the boot of forward Kyle Kenagy ’19, who let the ball run forward and then unleashed a venomous shot towards the Catamount goal. However, netminder Aron Runarsson produced an acrobatic save to deny the Elis an equalizer.
Compared to the physicality of Yale’s last two heated Ivy clashes, this game appeared much tamer. Yet, the game got physical in the 25th minute. One of the three Icelandic players in Vermont’s starting 11, Steinn Hansson, took Winhoffer down with a karate-esque tackle. The blow sent the sophomore midfielder to the turf, and the referee was quick to book Steinn Hansson with a yellow card for the rash challenge.
The half ended 1–0 in favor of Vermont with the Catamounts doubling the Bulldogs in shots 6–3.
Yale struggled out of the gate in the second half. A lengthy cross led to a score for the Catamounts in the 48th minute, as defender Adrian Gahabka, a transfer from North Carolina State, scored his first career goal. Steinn Hansson notched his first assist of the season on the score. The Catamounts averaged just under two goals on less than 18 shots a game heading into last night’s match, leading the America East Conference.
The Bulldogs were quick to fall back on the defensive, and just minutes after the score Wallenstein turned aside another promising Vermont look. Possession seemed to remain in the back third of Yale’s field, splitting time between a persistent attacking force led by Morrison and Alves. A low throw-in to the box by the Catamounts’ Trevor Colazzo ended up at the feet of Jonathan Bryant, who quickly flicked the ball to Morrison, leading to the team’s third goal in the 60th minute. The tally was Bryant’s first assist and Morrison’s first score of the season.
With the score 3–0 in favor of Vermont, Yale responded with perhaps its strongest chance at a goal shortly thereafter. Carroll made a quick through pass to midfielder John Leisman ’20, who was subbed in moments after the Catamounts’ third score, resulting in a shot just wide right of the goal.
At this point Coach Stannard shifted the focus of the game to generating playing time for young players and backups, subbing out starters Yuste, left back Justin Lobe ’20, midfielder Ryan Matteo ’20 and Carroll for forward Logan Sullivan ’22, defender Jeremy Haddock ’22, Winhoffer and forward Matthew Massad ’21, respectively.
Vermont kept up its pattern of high-pace play, with another shot from Colazzo in the 79th minute sailing high above the goal. Yale proceeded to pick up its own pace as the Bulldogs desperately attempted to put at least a goal on the scoreboard. The Elis responded with their own high shot by Sullivan in the 86th minute, shortly followed by a wide shot from midfielder James Kochanski ’19 in the 90th minute as the Catamounts were catapulted into victory.
“It was a tough result and poor team performance overall,” Sullivan said. “Hopefully we can learn from it and translate that into improving for Cornell on Saturday.”
The Bulldogs return to Ivy play with an upcoming fixture on the road against Cornell this Saturday at 4 p.m.
Bentley Long | firstname.lastname@example.org
Eamonn Smith | email@example.com