Following a strong showing against two out-of-conference programs in Syracuse and Colgate, the Yale men’s soccer team will host its first home game midweek against UConn, before playing away at Niagara on Sunday.
The Bulldogs (0–0–2, 0–0–0 Ivy) take on the Huskies (2–1–0, 0–0–0 AAC) on Wednesday night. No. 23 UConn opened its 2019 season with two wins, toppling Rider University and Rhode Island. However, the Bulldogs will be encouraged by the Huskies’ most recent game, which ended in a 2–1 defeat against Fairleigh Dickinson University. Additionally, resilient performances against Syracuse and Colgate will only serve to give Yale more belief that it can come away with the three points.
“We have earned some respect with our away results against top-30 programs,” defender Lazaros Efthymiou ’22 said. “I expect UConn to be much more careful and determined in the game and take us very seriously, as a result. UConn is historically a very good team and one of our local rivals, so this is definitely an extra motivation to win the game.”
Yale showed signs of pure brilliance in its two games last weekend, with both contests going into double overtime. Highlights were bountiful, with keeper Elian Haddock ’22 coming in clutch with five saves against the Orange. The moment of the weekend came when midfielder Mark Winhoffer ’21 scored against Colgate. He deftly dribbled by an oncoming Raider defender and launched an absolute rocket into the top left corner of the net from well outside the box. Winhoffer also collected two assists over this weekend in what was a career stretch for him.
Forward Jordan Hall, who is on an absolute tear of late for UConn, will prove a difficult test for the Elis. The British striker is making the most of his final year, with six goals in three games, including a hat trick against Rhode Island. Fellow forward Dayonn Harris has been the provider this year, with five assists in the early going. These two players up front have been dangerous already and will look to make an impact on the Yale fixture.
“We had a solid weekend on the road but left frustrated with the tie at Colgate,” winger John Leisman ’20 said. “Luckily UConn gives us an immediate opportunity to respond with a win and continue to prove our quality.”
The Bulldog backline has impressed thus far, featuring a mixture of senior leadership and youthful talent. Defender Jeremy Haddock ’22 has taken on a larger role in Yale’s defense grow this season, and has responded with mature performances. The towering 6’4” Wisconsin native has been crucial in clearing the ball out of the box and winning headers. Defender Will Emerson ’20 has also been a stalwart for the Elis and has continued his solid play into this year. He went the full duration of both double overtime games this weekend and was vital in keeping the talented attacks of both Syracuse and Colgate away from the Bulldog net.
Niagara’s season, meanwhile, has been one of mixed fortunes, with the Purple Eagle’s first two fixtures being comprehensive defeats to Western Michigan and Detroit Mercy. But in Niagara’s last game, the team showed tremendous grit to turn around a deficit and win in overtime against Northern Kentucky.
Yale has seen success in recent meetings with Niagara, including a 1–0 win last year. Midfielder Ryan Matteo ’20 set up striker Kyle Kenagy ’19, who struck the ball sweetly from distance to clinch victory for the Bulldogs.
But UConn has historically proven to be a challenge. The Bulldogs last faced the Huskies in 2017 away in Storrs. UConn defeated the Elis 2–0 in what was a frustrating defeat for the Yale team.
“While we did find a way to get some results this weekend, we’re not the kind of team that is happy with a tie,” forward DJ Palmer ‘21 said. “The home opener against UConn will be a big test for us, and I’m confident in our ability to create chances and protect our box.”
Yale opens up its home season on Wednesday against UConn at 7 p.m.
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