MEN’S SOCCER: Bulldogs take down UMass Lowell, shift focus to UConn
In its first home game in 672 days, the Yale men’s soccer team defeated UMass Lowell 4–1 under Saturday night lights at Reese Stadium.
Lukas Flippo, Photo Editor
The Yale men’s soccer team returned home for the first time since clinching the Ivy League title against Brown on Nov. 9, 2019. Four goals — including two from forward Paolo Carroll ’23 — lifted the Elis above UMass Lowell 4–1.
In front of a home crowd for the first time in almost two years, the Bulldogs (2–1–0, 0–0–0 Ivy) entertained the Yale faithful with four goals en route to their victory over the River Hawks (1–3–1, 0–0–0 America East). Despite a slow start, Carroll netted a goal against the run of play in the 20th minute, shifting momentum in the first half. Just two minutes later, Carroll converted again to put the Elis up two heading into the half.
After conceding a goal 12 minutes into the second half, the Blue and White refocused and tallied two more goals to seal a 4–1 victory. The Bulldogs must now recover quickly as they travel to in-state rival UConn (2–1–0, 0–0–0 Big East) on Tuesday.
“I think it’s just good to … play for the fans and [get] used to the timing of things,” head coach Kylie Stannard said standing on the pitch postgame. “But honestly, I’m a little frustrated because I thought we started off slow … Obviously we got the goal against the run of play … That calmed us down.”
In the opening 20 minutes, Yale struggled to settle into the game. UMass Lowell applied pressure early, controlling possession and testing Yale goalkeeper and captain Elian Haddock ’23. Haddock stood tall in net, and the Elis converted on a chance in the 20th minute to take the lead.
Forward Kahveh Zahiroleslam ’24 — who started the game up top alongside Carroll — received the ball on the right side of the field. Using his speed to his advantage, Zahiroleslam slipped the ball around the defender and struck a pass across the box. The ball found left back TJ Presthus ’25 on the opposite side of the field, who cut the ball back to midfielder Jules Oberg ’23. Oberg then fired the ball into the box, and a deflection off Carroll redirected the ball into the back of the net.
Oberg, a transfer from Division III school Williams College, started the game in center midfield alongside Ryan Cote ’25.
Carroll’s goal sparked the Elis’ offense, and the Brazilian scored again just two minutes later. Cote headed a ball on target, but the River Hawks’ goalkeeper blocked the attempt. Zahiroleslam jumped on the rebound and threaded a pass to Carroll, who was standing at the six yard box ready to slot the ball into the back of the net.
In just three games, Zahiroleslam has emerged as one of the most exciting players to watch on this year’s squad. He scored the winning goal in the Elis’ opening game against Fairfield, and he recorded a goal and an assist against UMass Lowell. Although Zahiroleslam has only suited up for the Blue and White three times, he credits much of his success within the team this season to the work done during his first year when Ivy sports were suspended.
“I think a lot of it has to do with my teammates and the coaches,” Zahiroleslam said when asked about his strong start to the season. “We didn’t have a season last year, so it was like a year of everything on Zoom. I think that year of Zoom really helped me get acclimated to the team … because once we came here, we had to hit the ground running.”
At the start of the second half, the Bulldogs struggled to find their rhythm. The UMass offense capitalized on some early missteps and found the back of the net with a header 12 minutes into the half. In an already physical game, tensions escalated in the frame. But Yale quickly turned the tide, pushing forward against the River Hawks before netting a third tally off a corner kick just eight minutes after the UMass goal. Forward Eric Lagos ’24 elevated to head the corner from Sigfus Arnason ’23 inside the far post — the goal was Lagos’ third of the season.
The pace of the game quickened, with two more shots from the Yale side and strong saves from Haddock in goal. With seven minutes of play remaining, a cross from Oberg to Zahiroleslam allowed the young talent to score the last goal of the game and his second of the season.
“We really wanted to get out on the home field and have a home W,” Carroll said. “Obviously, it’s super nice to have this class of … young guys who never played [college soccer] before, but I think we did a really good job of trying to get them inside of the system.”
On Tuesday, Yale travels north to Storrs to take on UConn (2–1–0, 0–0–0 Big East). In their last matchup in September 2019, the Bulldogs triumphed over the Huskies 3–0.
Saturday’s game saw 22 Bulldogs record minutes on the pitch by the final whistle. With a commanding 4–1 lead, Stannard brought some of the starters off the field to allow them to rest before Tuesday’s challenge, giving others an opportunity towards the end of the game.
“I think it’s great,” Stannard said when asked about the second-half substitutions. “I think it builds continued camaraderie and cohesion within the group and energy, and that’s really important to us.”
The Bulldogs kick off against UConn in Storrs on Tuesday at 7 p.m.