Courtesy of Musco Sports Photos

On Tuesday night, the Yale men’s soccer team lost its first home game since 2018 after falling 1–0 to University of Massachusetts. The contest marked the second consecutive loss for the Bulldogs, who will now shift their focus to their first Ivy League contest against Harvard this weekend. 

Yale (3–4–0, 0–0–0 Ivy) returned home to Reese Stadium on Tuesday night after traveling to Ohio for its bout against Akron (5–2–1, 0–0–0 MAC) on Saturday. Despite holding the Zips scoreless in the first half, the Elis conceded the deciding goal in the 66th minute. Against UMass (7–2–1, 1–1–0 Atlantic 10), the Bulldogs saw the same result. With three minutes remaining, the Minutemen scored on a long ball as the forward cut the ball past defender Jeremy Haddock ’23 and slotted it into the back of the net. The string of 1–0 losses drops the Elis below a 50 percent win rate as they shift focus to conference play.

“After a couple of close games that could have gone either way against UMass and Akron, the team is fully focused and determined to play our first Ivy match on Saturday against Harvard,” forward Paolo Carroll ’23 told the News. “Over the last few weeks, we have played against highly ranked D1 opponents and as a team we are prepared to start Ivy play. We have learned a lot about ourselves, and we are excited to play against Harvard.”

In Ohio, the Blue and White faced off against one of the most storied programs in college soccer. Akron last won the Division I championship in 2018 and ranked 15th in the nation at the time of the contest. The Elis’ matchup against the Zips is part of their challenging non-conference schedule. The Blue and White face off against No. 6 New Hampshire on Oct. 2.

In the first half against Akron, the young Yale team struggled to find its footing. The Zips forced Yale captain and goalkeeper Elian Haddock ’23 to make six saves in the first 45 minutes, including two in the first eight alone. Despite the pressure put on the Elis’ goalkeeper and back line, the contest remained scoreless after the first half.

After being held to just one shot in the first half, the Bulldogs outshot their opponent 7–4 in the second half. The Zips eventually converted one of its chances as forward Dyson Clapier sent the ball into the back of the net in the 66th minute for the game’s only goal.

On Tuesday, the Blue and White played its third home game of the season as UMass traveled to Reese Stadium. The Bulldogs — who had not lost at home since 2018 — pride themselves on winning and maintaining clean sheets at home. The Minutemen had other ideas, however, as they converted on a chance late in the second half to spoil the Elis’ streak.

“Tuesday’s home defeat was a much needed moment of truth, and now we can go into Ivy play with the understanding that there are no easy games,” the team’s lone senior Enzo Okpoye ’22 said. “We will return to practice on Thursday with our sights set on this Saturday’s Ivy opener against Harvard.”

The Minutemen traveled to the Elm City with a perfect 4–0 away record thus far this season. Although the game remained scoreless until the 86th minute, the visitors eventually notched the deciding goal late in the game to extend their road win streak to five.

In the opening 15 minutes, UMass controlled the tempo of the game. Yale struggled to keep possession of the ball in its offensive half, and quick defensive pressure from the Minutemen disrupted the Elis’ playing style. Five minutes into the contest, a long range shot from Ryan Kim forced Yale keeper Haddock to make an acrobatic save.

Although the Minutemen controlled the early parts of the game, the Blue and White settled into a rhythm and tallied five total shots in the first half. However, the Bulldogs only tested the UMass keeper once throughout the entire game. Both teams played the majority of the second half in the middle of the field. Haddock recorded a single save in the second half in the 68th minute as UMass forward Alec Hughes headed a cross on target. 

Despite holding the clean sheet for most of the game, a temporary lapse from the Bulldog defense allowed UMass to tally the game’s only goal. UMass defender Logan Brown launched a long ball forward. The Bulldog defense could not clear the ball in the air, and the ball ended up at the feet of the Minutemen’s leading goal scorer Filippo Begliardi Ghidini . With the ball on the left side of the box, Begliardi Ghidini dribbled past Haddock, cutting the ball across his body onto his right foot. Begliardi Ghidinithen slotted the ball past the Yale keeper from close range.

“We know we’re capable of better performances, and we learned a lot from these past two games,” defender Jake Schaffer ’24 said. “Our focus heading into this weekend is reestablishing our team identity of being hard to play against. We want Harvard to come to Reese and hate playing us.”

On Saturday, Yale returns to Reese Stadium to face off against rival Harvard (3–3–1, 0–0–0 Ivy). In their last matchup in October 2019, the Bulldogs pulled off a decisive 3–1 win, outshooting their Ivy opponents 23–9. The Crimson came out strong against No. 6 New Hampshire on Tuesday night, but mistakes in the second half resulted in a 3–1 loss. 

Despite the significance of the game against the Crimson, Carroll said that the team attempts to “take the approach and preparation for every game the same.”

Yale and Harvard kick off at Reese Stadium this Saturday at 7 p.m.