MEN’S SOCCER: Bulldogs draw against Harvard in Ancient Eight opener
In their only matchup of the season, Yale and Harvard tied 0–0 after 110 minutes of play.
In front of a packed crowd at Reese Stadium, the Yale men’s soccer team hosted Harvard in a scoreless draw to open conference play.
Under the Saturday night lights, Yale (3–4–1, 0–0–1 Ivy) battled the Crimson (3–3–2, 0–0–1 Ivy) through two overtime periods before the game ultimately ended in a draw. In the first half, the Bulldogs controlled the tempo and created better chances than Harvard, forcing the Crimson keeper to make three saves. Harvard applied more pressure in the second half as they outshot the Elis 9–6 and took seven corner kicks compared to Yale’s one. Despite playing an additional 20 minutes of golden goal overtime, neither side found the back of the net as the rivalry ended in a scoreless draw.
“It was a great experience and a tough battle against Harvard,” forward Kahveh Zahiroleslam ’24 said. “Having my first Ivy League match at home and against Harvard was an experience to remember. It was an electric atmosphere from the fans and unfortunately we couldn’t come away with the win. All the focus is now on Tuesday to get a result against Hartford.”
Five minutes into the game, the Elis saw their first opportunity on goal. After defender TJ Presthus ’25 launched a long ball off of a free kick, forward Paolo Carroll ’23 flicked the ball towards goal with his head. Zahiroleslam took a touch past the Crimson keeper and struck the ball, but a Harvard defender blocked his shot from close range.
Many of the first half’s best opportunities came off of set pieces. With nine minutes left in the opening frame, a Crimson corner kick ended up at the feet of Sam Bjarnason in the middle of the box. Bjarnason sent the shot wide of the net. On Yale’s seventh and final corner of the first half, midfielder Ryan Cote ’25 found forward Eric Lagos ’24, who jumped to head the ball just left of the goal.
The opportunities on set pieces continued in the second half. In the 50th minute, midfielder Sigfus Arnason ’23 served a ball on a free kick, finding Presthus who headed the ball on goal. A diving save from the Crimson keeper kept the game scoreless.
The Bulldogs also faced a flurry of set pieces on the defensive side of the ball as the Crimson earned seven corners in the second half alone. With 14 minutes remaining in the contest, a Harvard corner landed at the feet of reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Week Alessandro Arlotti, who rocketed the ball off the crossbar. Arlotti also forced Yale keeper Elian Haddock ’23 to make a save just two minutes later as he controlled a cross with his chest and let a shot loose with his right foot.
“It was awesome to see all of the support from students,” Haddock said. “Seeing so many Yale students really makes us feel better in tight games like that. Harvard played a great game, and definitely tested us both offensively and defensively. I think it was definitely disappointing not to get a win out of that game, but defensively we stayed strong and didn’t break which is really important to us, so that definitely boosts our confidence.”
The Elis weathered five shots and four corner kicks from the Crimson in the final ten minutes to send the match to extra time.
During overtime, both teams struggled to put together successful plays, with Harvard outshooting Yale 3–1 over the two 10-minute periods. Haddock made two saves to deny the Crimson any last-minute goals, and the match ended scoreless after 110 minutes. Yale’s last scoreless tie was against Brown in November 2017.
This season marks a turnaround for the Harvard soccer program. In 2019, the squad did not find a single win all year, notching 14 losses and one draw. The 2021 campaign is off to a much better start for the Crimson, who started their season with a 4–0 win against Central Connecticut State University and have tallied two additional wins since. Their most recent win came in double overtime against the University of Vermont, a team that handily beat them 4–2 in 2019.
The Harvard-Yale matchup opened up the Bulldogs’ Ivy play for the season. The conference lineup continues this weekend with another home game against Dartmouth. The Bulldogs pulled out a 3–1 victory the last time the teams met in October 2019.
Yale travels to Hartford on Tuesday for its ninth match of the season. The Elis kick off against the Hawks at 7 p.m.