Unbeaten through eight games, the Yale men’s soccer team is off to their best start since its 1952 season — thanks in no small part to the play of its captain.
The team has achieved impressive results against top-tier nonconference opponents such as the University of Connecticut and blew away fierce rival Harvard to get their Ivy League campaign off to a blistering start. While the team has demonstrated a high level of fluidity and understanding, it is captain and midfielder Miguel Yuste ’20 who has provided a focal point, tirelessly leading by example in every game he has played. Despite an injury limiting him to one game in his first year, the senior midfield playmaker has become a constant feature for the Bulldog squad ever since. He came back in his sophomore year and earned an honorable mention in the All-Ivy selection, as well as receiving the Frank Dunne Most Improved Player Award. As a junior, Yuste started 10 of the 14 games he appeared in and scored a goal against Byrant, with assists against Georgetown and Michigan State. This year, he has already scored five goals and provided two assists — a career high during his time at Yale.
“Captaining this team is an incredible honor, and the start of the season has obviously been great so far,” Yuste said. “The beginning of the season was challenging, as Ivy League teams get less preparation and time to get the first years included in our system and philosophy, but they picked it up quickly and got integrated with the group surprisingly fast. I have really enjoyed the daily growth of the group, the day by day approach and how everyone has bought into what we are trying to accomplish in this program since the very first day.”
The captain, having played soccer since the age of four, attributes his love of the game from an early age to his father who would play with him in his childhood. Yuste cited his soccer idols as Spanish greats Xavi, Andrés Iniesta and Raúl González.
Hailing from Valladolid, Spain himself, Yuste played two seasons at his high school Northfield Mount Hermon, in which he scored 28 goals and made 22 assists. The team, which named him MVP as a senior had a 30–7–1 record over the course of the two years. Yuste also played for La Liga club Real Valladolid for six seasons (three-time team captain) and PSG Manhattan for two years before coming to Yale.
In February, Yuste was elected captain, making him the first Spaniard to hold the title in program history. Just over a month into his senior year, Yuste has shown why this is, proving to be an indispensable force on the pitch. He currently shares the Ivy League lead with his five goals, having scored two in a recent match against Stony Brook.
His exploits in that particular game resulted in Yuste being named to College Soccer News’ National Team of the Week. In addition to two assists, the midfield maestro has garnered a total of 12 points for his team, with this year’s conference play having just kicked off on Friday.
“It’s wonderful to have him as captain,” fellow midfielder Mark Winhoffer ’21 said. “We have been very close since I first came here and actually he was my host when I visited Yale. We see the game in the same way and he leads by example through his work rate and game play. His mentality in training is great, and he brings an edge every time he steps out onto the field. He also holds everyone accountable to a top standard and trusts everyone to do their job, which has allowed younger guys to gain confidence in the field.”
Yuste has contributed greatly to the program over the years and especially to this already historic 2019 campaign. It is telling that his teammates refer to the high standards which he has set, with the Bulldogs managing to improve their overall record in every single season that he has played at Yale.
In addition, the team is currently ranked No. 28 in the College Soccer News Poll — the only Ivy school to be ranked — and on Friday, Yuste and the Bulldogs defeated rival Harvard for the first time since 2013 in a decisive 3–1 victory.
“Having Miguel as a captain is amazing,” defender Lazaros Efthymiou ’22 said. “Firstly, he is a great player, who always makes big plays so we know we can rely on him. What is even more special though is how he motivates everyone during practice, always tries to his maximum, never brings people down and always keeps us accountable so that we remain focused and consistent.”
Yuste and the Elis will play their second conference game against Dartmouth on Saturday.
Sophie Kane | firstname.lastname@example.org
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