Looking to start this season on a strong note, the Yale men’s soccer team travels to New York this weekend to face both Colgate and Syracuse. These two tough non-conference fixtures mark the opening matches of the Bulldogs’ 2019 season.
Yale first squares off against Syracuse (1–1–0, 0–0–0 ACC) on Friday night, who is already two games into its season. The Orange opened the year with a matchup against Georgetown, which Syracuse lost 3–1. The team rebounded, though, with a dominant performance against Binghamton. The Orange won 3–1 to even its record. Colgate (0–1–1, 0–0–0 Patriot) also sports one loss and one draw. Yale’s opener last season was a 1–0 victory over Niagara.
“Over my three years, we have consistently improved, but this year the team is prepared to take an even bigger step,” midfielder John Leisman ’20 said. “We are approaching things one practice and one game at a time, but there is definitely a collective belief and expectation that we will achieve more. Obviously, saying it and doing it are two different things. We understand we haven’t proven anything yet.”
The Elis will be looking for big production from their midfield, a mixture of veteran expertise and youthful talent. Midfield maestro Mark Winhoffer ’21 has been a near-permanent fixture on the Yale side since arriving on campus as a first year. The Illinois native creates opportunities with his deft passing and seems at times to have the ball on a string. In contrast to Winhoffer’s offensive ability, midfield partner Enzo Okpoye ’22 was a crucial defensive force last year. He featured in 12 games in his debut season, becoming crucial in the build-up play for the Bulldogs.
Syracuse will rely heavily on the offensive production of its midfield, rather than just that of the strikers. Midfielder Ryan Raposo had a tremendous season last year for the Orange, scoring four times and providing seven assists. He already has three goals through two games this year. Massimo Ferrin is the true striker for the Syracuse team, netting five times while playing up front last season. A final notable addition to the Syracuse roster is goalkeeper Andres Quevedo, the younger brother of Yale striker Aldo Quevedo ’21.
“The team is looking very sharp this year, improving year by year,” defender Lazaros Efthymiou ’22 said. “We play Syracuse first and look at it game by game. Syracuse is a very good team, but we go into every game thinking we’re gonna win. It’s a new chapter for the team and our chance to make history, so that’s what we’re aiming for. We have great strength in depth with many dangerous options. No matter how the first game goes, we go to Colgate with the same winning mentality.”
Yale’s coach Kylie Stannard will have a difficult decision to make regarding who starts between the posts for the Bulldogs this coming season. Keeper Tom Wallenstein ’21 was the main choice for the Elis last year, and the German keeper had success despite critical injuries to the defensive line in front of him. He finished fifth in the Ivy League for both saves and goals against average, with marks of 46 and 1.16, respectively. Netminder Elian Haddock ’22 made an appearance in three games and earned a win against Army. The sophomore will look to contest Wallenstein’s spot this coming season.
The Colgate team, who graduated crucial talent last season, needs its younger players to step up to replace the 22 goals and 12 players it has lost. Midfielder Kian Alberto had an impressive debut season last year, scoring once and assisting five goals. Senior Kentaro Morrison brings experience to the Raider midfield, after having a productive season last year. The Tokyo native scored two goals and assisted two others throughout his 23 games played.
Senior leadership will also be critical for the Elis this season. Midfielder Ryan Matteo ’20 has been the epitome of hard work through his time as a Bulldog and played the full 110 minutes in two double overtime games last year. Similar to Matteo, wingback Justin Lobe ’20 is the engine on which the Yale team runs. He never stops making runs down the wings and launches pinpoint crosses into the box. These two senior standouts will need to continue energizing the Yale side.
Yale faces an unfamiliar adversary in Colgate. The two teams last faced off in 2012, a game which ended in a 0–0 stalemate. The upcoming match is also Colgate’s down syndrome awareness game.
The Elis have the opportunity to stretch Colgate’s winless streak to three in a row. Although the Raiders have yet to taste victory this fall, their loss and draw came with quality opposition. Colgate drew against then No. 20 Portland last Friday before narrowly losing to then No. 22 Oregon State on Sunday.
“I think there’s a collective feeling that this team is going to do special things this year, and we have a great opportunity to make a statement this weekend,” Quevedo said. “With great experience from our upperclassmen and great talent in all classes, we’re ready to compete at a national level.”
The Bulldogs kick off against Colgate at Beyer-Small ’76 field on Sept. 8th at 5 p.m.
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