After an up-and-down 2018 campaign, the Yale men’s soccer team heads into this year with renewed fire and a sizable level of talent. The Bulldogs are led by a newly appointed captain, midfielder Miguel Yuste ’20, and a quality group of seniors looking to finish their Yale careers on a winning note.

The Elis, picked to finish fifth in the Ivy League, flourished in September of last season, spurred by a massive draw against Michigan State. The Spartans came in highly ranked at No. 3 in the country, but the Bulldogs refused to let the ranking daunt them. Defender Will Emerson ’20 ripped a shot in the box past the Michigan State stopper to send the crowd at Reese Field into a frenzy. The celebration was short-lived, though, as the Spartans scored two unanswered goals in the second half. Yet ultimately, the Elis were resilient as forward Nicky Downs ’19 dispatched a deft cross from wingback Justin Lobe ’20 to secure a tie and give the Yale team a well-deserved result.

“Building off a great spring season, we added a talented group of first years,” Yuste said. “Our approach is to compete and improve every day to reach the next level and get to play in the NCAA tournament. From the very start you can really feel the hunger of this group.”

Yale struggled throughout the 2018 Ancient Eight slate but still managed to post notable victories against its conference opponents. In the middle of October, the Elis marched into Ithaca and snatched a 2–1 overtime win from Cornell. The victory was made even sweeter as it marked the debut collegiate goal for defender Jeremy Haddock ’22. The Bulldogs capped off the year with a 1–0 victory against eventual champion Princeton, with striker Paolo Carroll ’22 poaching a goal in the box to give Yale its winning advantage.

Carroll was key to Yale’s success last season with a prolific beginning to his college career. The Brazilian striker led the team in both goals and points, finding the back of the net five times and tallying 15 total points on the year, ranking him third in the conference. Carroll’s play earned him Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors four times. Following the season, he was named All-Ivy Second Team. Yale will be looking for Carroll to find that form once more this year.

“The team and I are excited to start the new season,” Carroll said. “We are focused and putting the hard work in from the start. We are excited to have the top-level experience in our new assistant coach Charles Rodriguez and a good bunch of new first years on the team. [We] can’t wait to get going.”

Yale’s midfield will be anchored by Yuste, a stalwart in the Bulldog squad throughout his entire career. The Spaniard has been a leader on and off the pitch and never fails to keep the crowd entertained with his technical skill and flair. While an injury sidelined Yuste for his rookie season, the creative midfielder had a tremendous sophomore campaign. He led the team in both goals and points in Ivy competition and received Honorable Mention All-Ivy for his efforts. Yuste appears ready for a dominant year as he leads the Elis into battle as captain.

As the new season approaches, head coach Kylie Stannard looks to inject new blood into his lineup with the addition of six exciting talents, derived from a multitude of backgrounds. Defender Jake Schaffer ’23 comes from New York, while midfielder Kai Moos ’23 and defender Daniel Massaad ’23 hail from California, bringing versatility and defensive solidity. Meanwhile, defender Thomas Toney ’23 from Georgia was recruited from the top quality Atlanta FC Academy and instinctive forward Eric Lagos ’23 comes from Minnesota. Defender Siggy Arnason ’23 is the sole international representative in the first-year class, hailing from Iceland.

“Being a freshman has been super exciting so far, being constantly challenged and having to adjust to the tempo of play of Division I level,” Arnason said. “I hope to be a part of great things at Yale men’s soccer these next few years.”

While the preseason Ivy League poll placed the Bulldogs in the middle of the conference, the Elis will be looking to outdo their ranking as they did in the previous year. Yale will be significantly tested in nonconference play before it gets a shot at its Ivy opposition — the Bulldogs’ first seven matches are out of conference.

Yale opens its conference slate against archrival Harvard, an explosive matchup for the opener. The faceoff will take place on home turf, with the teams duking it out at Reese Field.

The Elis kick off their 2019 campaign against Syracuse on Sept. 6 at 7 p.m.

Syimyk Kyshtoobaev | syimyk.kyshtoobaev@yale.edu

Eamonn Smith | eamonn.smith@yale.edu