The Yale men’s soccer team has affirmed its historic season this weekend, smashing Dartmouth 3–1 on Saturday on the heels of a similar victory against Harvard last week. This win marks the first time the Bulldogs have beaten either team since 2013, and this season’s seven-game winning streak is now the longest in 64 years.
The Elis (7–0–2, 2–0–0, Ivy) remain undefeated through all nine of their games so far this season. In this weekend’s contest against the Big Green (4–5–1, 1–1–0, Ivy) the Bulldogs emerged unscathed from one of the most significant hurdles of the conference. For the past two years this fixture has ended in draws, with each team scoring two goals in 2017 and one a piece in 2018. This year, the Big Green was under pressure right from the kickoff, with defender Sigfus Arnason ’23 sending a free kick from 25 yards out from goal that deflected off an opposing defender into the net. The own goal would loom alone on the scoreboard for the first half. Following the half, midfielder Enzo Okpoye ’22 and midfielder Mark Winhoffer ’21 both made their third goals of the season in the span of less than five minutes. Dartmouth responded with opposing defender Henry Baldwin scoring in the 58th minute, but the uptick in pressure was not enough to take back the game from the Elis.
“Winning against Dartmouth was a great feeling. The team felt like we didn’t play our best soccer but we were able to grind through and get the result we wanted,” forward Paolo Carrol ’22 said. “Dartmouth is always a hard team to play against and it is good to get the win and move forward onto the next game.”
Dartmouth came into Saturday’s game having achieved 1–0 and 2–1 wins against UMass and Michigan State respectively, as well as a stunning 7–1 win over Niagara, which the Elis also beat — but by a smaller 3–1 margin — in September. The Big Green had also played its Ivy opener against Princeton the week prior, where it secured the game’s only goal in the 72nd minute, despite being outshot 11–7. Unlike the Elis, Dartmouth arrived at Reese Stadium with four losses under its belt, after facing off against the likes of then-No. 1 Wake Forest and then-No. 18 New Hampshire.
The Bulldogs seized early control against the Big Green, with Arnason forcing the own goal that allowed Yale to take the lead less than a minute into play. Despite the Bulldogs being on the board, Dartmouth regained some momentum, outshooting the Elis 5–3 in the first half.
Yale struck again in the second half when Winhoffer sent a cross to Okpoye who headed it past opposing keeper Alex Budnik into the goal. Yale may have found a new leading scorer in Okpoye, who has made a goal in each of the past three games against Central Connecticut, Harvard and Dartmouth. Okpoye has proven a key player on Yale’s set pieces, coming up from the backline to score on corner kicks and free kicks alike.
“I’ve been fortunate to be in good scoring positions these last three games, […] but at the end of the day it all comes down to the time and effort we put into planning and executing set pieces, which have been the source of all my goals,” Okpoye said. “Scoring against Harvard in front of a huge home crowd was an awesome experience, but being able to repeat the same feat against [Dartmouth], a second Ivy League rival [within] a week is something I’ll always remember.”
Neither the team nor Winhoffer was satisfied with the two-goal advantage as the midfielder curved a perfect corner over Budnik’s head in the 54th minute creating a 3–0 deficit. This is Winhoffer’s second time scoring off the corner this season.
Despite the lead the Big Green’s pressure was felt in the remainder of the second-half. Opposing defender Henry Baldwin scored off a free-kick from teammate Dawson McCartney, preventing a Yale shutout. Dartmouth also outshot the Elis 7–2 in the last 31 minutes, but goalkeeper Elian Haddock ’22 prevented further goals finishing with a season high of six saves.
“It’s always nice to get a win against such a strong side,” Winhoffer said. “We ended the first half a bit shaky but came out hot in the second half, which showed the ability to bounce back. We are happy to get the win but know we have to be better for a complete 90 minutes.”
Even having not achieved the shutout, the team’s plays were perfectly executed, securing them the game and giving the team a 2–0 lead in conference play going forward — their best start in the Ancient Eight in six years.
The Bulldogs will be on the road early this week taking on non-conference UMass on Tuesday at 3 p.m. before returning to New Haven to play Cornell on Friday at 5 p.m.
Sophie Kane | firstname.lastname@example.org