After posting two wins and a draw in their three most recent outings, the Yale men’s soccer team will face off against second-place Columbia in a crucial late-season fixture on Saturday.
The Elis (6–4–3, 1–1–2 Ivy) take on the Lions (7–4–3, 3–1–0 Ivy) in a game with real playoff implications. Currently, Yale trails the Lions by four points on the Ivy League table, and a win would take the squad into contention for the second place spot. Meanwhile, Columbia could rise to the top of the conference with a win against Yale and a Princeton loss or draw against Cornell. The contest is also the second to last home game for Yale in their regular season.
“This group is used to playing in big games and Columbia is just another big game. Everyone knows what’s at stake, but we are confident about our preparations and what we’ve done so far, as well as the lessons we have learned,” said Coach Kylie Stannard. “Both teams are going to be highly motivated, and like all games, it will come down to which team is able to make the critical plays inside the boxes.”
After a tough September end and October beginning, the Elis reclaimed their flying form from earlier in the season. Following a tough 3–0 loss to Vermont, Yale proceeded to rattle off two tough wins against Cornell and Army before playing Penn to a dramatic double overtime tie. The win against the then-No.18 Big Red proved crucial for the Bulldogs’ postseason hopes.
Last year, the meeting between the Elis and the Lions resulted in a frustrating 1–0 loss for Yale. Despite leading the Lions in shots 10 to seven, the Bulldogs were unable to find a goal. Three starters for Yale were sidelined with illness, and Columbia goalkeeper Dylan Castanheira was on the top of his game. Castanheira made two crucial saves, giving his offense a chance to find a breakthrough. Beto Carillo generated a 1–0 lead for the Lions before the first half, posting his first goal of the season. Though Bulldogs continued to struggle for chances, the game ultimately ended in a disheartening loss.
Recently, forward Kyle Kenagy ’19 has carried the Elis’ strike force, playing a crucial role in the recent resurgence for the boys in blue. Prior to the Bulldogs’ recent run of success, Kenagy had managed to tally only a single goal and assist for the season. But recently, Kenagy has been on a tear. He smashed home the dramatic overtime game-winning goal versus Cornell, sending the Elis home with a crucial three points. Additionally, in the Penn game, winger Logan Sullivan ’22 sent in a picture-perfect cross Kenagy pounced on, sliding the ball past the Penn goalie.
Columbia has had a somewhat erratic season as a whole, but has fared very well in Ivy play. The Lions began the year with a impressive win against then-No.11 Butler, besting the Horizon foe 2–0. The Light Blue also drew with Army, who the Elis recently beat in a tense 2–1 game. Its next game against a ranked opponent featured then-No. 24 Fordham, who handed the Lions a one-goal loss. In their most recent out of conference matchup against Pitt, Columbia fell to the Panthers 1–0, with the Lions struggling to find offense.
But Ivy play has been a completely different story for the 2018–2019 Columbia squad. The Light Blue opened its season with a dominant 2–0 victory against Penn. Its next Ivy matchup saw a heartbreaking 2–1 loss to league leader Princeton, the lone defeat of Columbia’s conference play thus far. However, the Lions bounced back in style, defeating a struggling Dartmouth team 1–0 in overtime.
“This game is an opportunity to just keep moving the program forward and continue to prove the doubters wrong about us being a pushover team,” said outside back Jack Arnold ’21. “We still have a chance to secure the Ivy League, but we just have to take our next three games one at a time and focus on overcoming the challenge at hand. We’ve been training very well and at a consistently high level, so I’m excited to see what the boys can get done this Saturday.”
With defender Will Emerson ’20 still nursing an injury, center back Jeremy Haddock ’22 has stepped up in his place for the Bulldogs. The young defender displayed little nerves with his insertion into the starting lineup, netting his first goal in Yale’s victory against the Big Red. He used his 6-foot-4 frame to drill a header past Cornell’s keeper and into the side netting. He also provided a steadying presence in the back line during Yale’s win against the Black Knights. The game was special for Haddock as he started alongside his brother, goalkeeper Elian Haddock ’22.
Columbia has managed a respectable 16 goals in 14 games, seeing a wide range of goal scorers. 11 different players have netted a goal for the Lions this year, with forward Kynan Rocks leading the attack with four goals. Rocks is having a solid year, managing nine points coming on four goals and an assist. Attacking midfielder Dylan Mott and fellow mid Danny Laranetto have also been contributors for the Columbia team, both notching two goals and one assist so far in the season.
Though he has had a tremendous impact, Kenagy is not the sole contributor for the Elis’ recent run of form. Midfielder Mark Winhoffer ’21 recorded his first goal of the season against Army to give the Bulldogs an important lead. The talented sophomore ferociously struck the ball near the outside of the box, giving the opposing keeper little chance as it sailed to the top corner of the net. Striker Aldo Quevedo ’21 has also built upon his streak of good performances, scoring a vital game-winning goal against Army. The goal was his third on the season, tying his total for all of last year.
“We go into each game thinking it’s the most important game.” said Winhoffer. “This is no different. We have to win out to have a shot at the tournament. We are a resilient group and will leave it on the field.”
The goalkeeping for Columbia has been excellent so far this year. Castanheira boasts a 0.813 save percentage, having made 39 saves so far this season. He made a season high six saves against Pitt to hold the scoreline close in that loss for the Lions. As a result of his success, Castanheira has been Columbia’s permanent starter — no other Lions goalkeeper has made an appearance between the posts.
The Bulldogs face Columbia at Reese Stadium at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Ruiyan Wang contributed reporting.
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