The Yale men’s soccer team opened up its home season on Wednesday with a dominant 3–0 victory against UConn before heading to New York to square off against Niagara on Sunday. Yale swept the week after brushing aside the Purple Eagles 3–1.
After two competitive ties against Syracuse and Colgate last weekend, Yale (2–0–2, 0–0–0 Ivy) was hungry for a win. The Elis satiated that hunger with back-to-back victories against UConn (2–3–0, 0–0–0 AAC) and Niagara (1–5–0, 0–0–0 MAAC). While Yale has yet to kick off their all-important Ivy campaign, these out-of-conference tests have been crucial for the Bulldogs to generate some early-season momentum.
“The 3–0 win against UConn was a special one because it was our home opener and because no Connecticut team had beat their talented team for so many years,” captain and midfielder Miguel Yuste ’20 said. “On the weekend, we came back against Niagara to win, which was a hard game after such a long trip, but it was great to take care of business and stay undefeated. All we have in mind now is Fairfield on Wednesday back at Reese.”
The Bulldogs last faced the Huskies in a frustrating 2–0 loss in 2012. Seven years later, Yale came out with unbridled confidence. The Bulldogs leapt all over the Huskies in the opening half in front of a passionate group of supporters. With nearly 30 minutes elapsed, outside back Sigfus Arnason ’23 won the ball back on the wing and delivered a pinpoint pass to the feet of midfielder Ryan Matteo ’20. The senior made no mistakes as he lined up a low-driven shot from outside the box, which found the lower-left corner of the net with precision.
Shortly after the opener, winger Thomas Toney ’23 was yanked down in the penalty area after blowing by the Husky defense. Yuste slotted home the penalty kick with ease and sent the crowd into a frenzy. With 10 minutes to go before the half, Matteo grabbed his second and lasered a strike that took a generous deflection before landing in the net. At the end of the first half, the Bulldogs appeared in full control of the game with a 3–0 lead.
“This was a good test for us in different ways than the previous games, and we handled things well overall,” head coach Kylie Stannard said. “I like the depth of our roster right now, and we will need everyone to stay focused. The grind of the early season continues with another busy week.”
The second half was all about maintaining the lead for Yale, and the team did so beautifully. Defender Will Emerson ’20 had a heroic bicycle-kick goal-line clearance to keep a clean sheet in the 65th minute. Making three crucial saves and also rising up to meet any potentially dangerous crosses in his box, goalkeeper Elian Haddock ’22 was up for everything the Huskies threw his way. When the final whistle blew, Yale celebrated a 3–0 win.
Although Yale had momentum following its dominant midweek performance, Niagara delivered a sucker punch early in the first half on Sunday. In the 24th minute, senior midfielder Mackenzie Roach dribbled through the Yale back line and blasted a left-footed shot past Haddock to stun the Elis and put the Purple Eagles up 1–0.
The Bulldogs, however, refused to stay down, and Paolo Carroll ’22, Mark Winhoffer ’21 and Aldo Quevedo ’21 all got on the scoresheet to turn the game on its head. Similarly to their devastating performance against UConn earlier in the week, Yale put on an offensive clinic and scored three unanswered goals. After a sterile first half, Stannard’s players came alive in the second half, epitomized by Winhoffer’s sizzling free kick that left Purple Eagle keeper Josh Savoni stranded in the center of the goal.
“I couldn’t be happier with the way we responded after being down 1–0,” Quevedo said. “We really responded to the team talk at halftime and stayed positive, allowing us to get each of our three goals and get the result.”
The Bulldogs now turn their attention to next week’s games against Fairfield on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Stony Brook on Saturday at 7 p.m.
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