The Yale men’s soccer team has gotten off to a hot start so far this fall, with impressive results against top-tier nonconference opponents such as the University of Connecticut. While the team as a whole has played well, midfielder Mark Winhoffer ’21 has set himself apart as a potent offensive threat early on.

The junior midfield maestro has been a constant feature for the Bulldog squad since his first season in New Haven. While he has experienced success during his previous two campaigns, Winhoffer has recently hit a fantastic run of form. In the soccer team’s past four games, he garnered two goals and three assists for a total of seven points. On top of that, Winhoffer has docked seven total shots and five shots on goal. Last week, the midfielder earned Ivy League Player of the Week accolades for his performances thus far.

“Mark is playing with a ton of confidence right now, and it starts with his incredible work rate and fitness level,” head coach Kylie Stannard said. “He really values playing both sides of the ball, which is a must, but his first instincts are to impact the attacking half and either pass forward or drive forward with the ball. Additionally, he has been excellent with his attacking set pieces, and it’s something we need to take advantage of even more.”

In Winhoffer’s first year, he was the sole rookie to play in all sixteen of the Bulldog’s games. In that season, he scored once and assisted two other goals. His four points were enough for fourth on the team — behind strikers Kyle Kenagy ’19, Aldo Quevedo ’21 and midfielder and current captain Miguel Yuste ’20. Winhoffer’s first collegiate goal came against Lafayette, a crucial tally which kept the Elis in the contest against a tough non-Ivy opponent.

In Winhoffer’s second season, he managed to perform at a high level despite challenges. He started in six of the Elis’ thirteen games he appeared in but battled illness throughout the season. Despite his health troubles, he still managed to match his goal and assist contributions from 2017.

Winhoffer has been preparing to make big contributions at the collegiate level since high school when he played at St. Charles North in the Praire State. He played for the Philippine National team, moving up from its U15 squad all the way to the U23 team and the men’s national team. He also played club-level soccer for Sockers FC during his time in the Chicago area.

As a result of his impressive performances in high school and on the international stage, Top Drawer Soccer ranked Winhoffer the 123rd best player in his class. He scored 30 goals with 46 assists during his high school career, helping his team go 55–5 in three years. As just a sophomore, he was named the school’s Most Valuable Player.

Winhoffer is not the only soccer star in his family: Both his brother and father played collegiate soccer. Winhoffer’s father, Ernest Winhoffer, played at both Fordham and Mercy. His brother, Michael, also played as a midfield for Fordham.

“It’s been nice being trusted to be on the field and being able to provide for my team,” Winhoffer said. “It’s been a huge help that I’m playing with teammates that push me in practice and communicate a lot during the game, which makes me better every time I walk out on the field. Being an upperclassmen made me have a new wave of confidence. All the hard work and practice in the summer is paying off, and I’m happy to help my team get results.”

Winhoffer’s drastic improvement has not only proved pivotal for the Yale team, but is also an example of the team’s growth as a whole. Hoping to build on a promising campaign in 2018, the returning members of the team have stepped into larger roles and shined. Up front, Quevedo and striker Paolo Carroll ’22 have found the back of the net already this year. In addition, defender Jeremy Haddock ’22 has been vital as a starter in back for the Bulldogs.

Yale and Winhoffer take on Fairfield at home on Wednesday.

Eamonn Smith | eamonn.smith@yale.edu