Courtesy of Steve Musco

After giving up a goal early in the first half, the Yale men’s soccer team fell to Columbia in a 2–1 loss on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

The Bulldogs (6–5–1, 1–2–2 Ivy) tackled the Lions (8–4–1, 4–1–0, Ivy) at Reese Stadium on Saturday but were unsuccessful in securing the win. A tough first half put the Elis down by two. Despite beleaguering the Lion defense in the second half, the deficit proved too great to overcome. Given that both teams entered the match towards the top of the Ivy league standings, the loss pushed the Bulldogs out of contention for the championship, while propelling the Lions to second place by just one point behind Princeton.

“We conceded a very early goal,” midfielder Miguel Yuste ’20 said. “And then we started settling down and playing good soccer. We gave all we had because it was a final for us. We dominated and had our chances especially in the second half.”

The Bulldogs were immediately tested in the first half. A forward ball from the left midfield met Columbia’s Kynan Rocks who settled it and ripped a shot on goal. The attempt was deflected by goalkeeper Tom Wallenstein ’21, but the rebound changed direction into empty space on the right side. The ball was charged by Columbia’s Dylan Mott, who curled the rebound shot into the upper left 90. Columbia led 1–0 just two minutes into the match. The early play by Columbia would set the stakes for the rest of the match.

Yale played from behind for the rest of the match, while Columbia looked to defend its lead. The Columbia defense has been stalwart all season, manned by senior goalkeeper Dylan Castanheira with 24 career shutouts -— two shy of the Ivy league record. The Lion backline routinely halted efforts by the Yale offense to test Castanheira.

However, Yuste had a chance to tie the match in the 32nd minute when forward Aldo Quevedo ’21 was fouled just outside the penalty box. Yuste’s shot just narrowly missed the right post and skidded out of bounds.

In the final five minutes of the half, the Lions extended their lead on a counter attack after a Yale free kick. A running Lion was fouled outside the box. A last-minute tip, just off the top of Vana Markarian, was enough to redirect the curling ball into the top of the Yale net.

The second Lion goal followed a flurry of chances for the Elis in front of the net, including a free kick by senior midfielder Nicky Downs ’19. But none of the chances proved fruitful, and the half finished 2–0 Columbia.

The second half saw a surge from the Elis. The lone goal for the Bulldogs came from Downs in the 66th minute. Forward Paolo Carroll ’22 flicked a ball headed out of bounds back behind him to find defender Andrew Carton ’20 inside the box. Carton’s one-touch across to the center found Downs, who fired a low shot into the bottom right corner of the goal. The Elis were finally on the scoreboard.

“When we compete, defend well and move the ball, we can beat anyone,” Yuste said. “We did that for the most part of the game, and we tried to shoot from far as well, trying to get the equalizer.”

In the second half, the Bulldogs outshot the Lions 11–3, with Yuste, Carroll, Quevedo, midfielder Mark Winhoffer ’21 and defender Enzo Okpoye ’22 all taking a shot at net. The Bulldogs also had the edge in corner kicks 4–0. Unfortunately, the effort was not enough to make up the two-goal deficit, and the match commenced in a 2–1 loss.

With just two matches left, the Elis are now fifth in the Ancient Eight with five points. The final two matches are against Brown, with three points, and league-leader Princeton, with 13 points.

“Our goal is to win both games to help secure a winning season,” forward John Leisman ’20 said. “Although we are out of Ivy title contention, we’ll be giving everything to finish with two more wins.”

The Elis take on Brown in Providence on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.