MEN’S SOCCER: Bulldogs close out season with 1–0 loss to Princeton
The Yale men’s soccer team fell 1–0 in overtime to Ivy League champion Princeton on Saturday night, finishing the season ranked second in the Ivy League.
The Yale men’s soccer team played its final game of the season Saturday, falling 1–0 to Princeton in an overtime thriller. Princeton and Yale finished first and second in the Ivy League, respectively.
Although the Tigers (12–5–0, 7–0–0 Ivy) entered Saturday’s contest already having clinched the Ivy crown, Yale (7–5–4, 4–1–2 Ivy) forced the champs into overtime for their first extra-time contest this season. The 1–0 result is Yale’s only Ivy loss on the season. Draws against Penn and Harvard, however, left the Elis trailing in the standings to a Princeton team that won every Ivy game outright. The season finale represented the final game for the Bulldogs’ lone senior Enzo Okpoye ’22.
“It was definitely a bittersweet moment as the referee blew the final whistle at Princeton,” Okpoye said. “I had a lot of time during lockdown to reflect and prepare myself for the inevitable, the moment when I’d have to hang up the jersey, but I guess I couldn’t picture the love and appreciation from my teammates.”
In regulation, Princeton outshot Yale 8–6 and had the edge in corner kicks 4–3. The Tigers finally converted on a chance four minutes into the first overtime period, locking in their undefeated conference record.
Okpoye — who struggled with injuries throughout his Yale career — anchored Yale’s defense during the 2019 championship season. Even as a defender, Okpoye scored five goals in the campaign. Over his three seasons in the Blue and White, Okpoye played 2,410 minutes for the Bulldogs.
Although the Bulldogs could not pull off a repeat as champions in Okpoye’s final year, they will return all but one player for the 2022 campaign. Captain and goalkeeper Elian Haddock ’23 will return alongside his brother Jeremy Haddock ’23 to anchor the Bulldogs’ back line. Forwards Paolo Carroll ’23 and Kahveh Zahiroleslam ’24 — the team’s leading goalscorers — will look to increase production in the attacking third as well.
One of the Blue and White’s key strengths throughout the season was its defense. The Haddock brothers, Jake Schaffer ’24, TJ Presthus ’25 and Gelbus Lemus ’25 composed the defensive unit that conceded just three goals throughout Ancient Eight play. Saturday’s game against Princeton proved to be another low-scoring defensive battle. Elian Haddock recorded just one save, which came 31 minutes into the contest as Diaz Bonilla fired a shot on target. Neither team put any additional shots on target until the Tigers’ winning golden goal in overtime.
“We were all very disappointed with the result at Princeton,” midfielder Sam Harshe ’25 said. “We’ll have a very good group coming back next season, though, and we’re already looking forward to the opportunity to play several teams, including Princeton, again.”
Princeton’s deciding goal came just over three minutes into overtime. Midfielder Ryan Clare received a ball on the right wing and knocked a left-footed, inswinging cross into the box. The Yale defense failed to clear the ball, and it landed at the feet of Mateo Godoy on the back post. After the ball bounced, Godoy extended his left foot to redirect the ball past Elian Haddock.
The goal sealed Princeton’s perfect conference season, a feat they have not accomplished since 2010. The win also represented Princeton head coach Jim Barlow’s 200th win at the helm of the New Jersey program.
As Ancient Eight champions, Princeton punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Despite finishing third in Ivy standings, Cornell may join the Tigers as the second Ancient Eight team in the tournament by receiving an at-large bid. Both teams will await the announcement of the tournament’s first-round matchups, which are released on Nov. 15. Although the Big Red are not currently ranked in the top 25 nationally, they ranked No. 19 when Yale defeated them 1–0.
“Considering we only had one senior, who was also battling injuries all year, and 17 new players in their first year competing at this level, it is pretty amazing what the group was able to accomplish this season,” head coach Kylie Stannard said.
In 2019, Princeton finished the season tied for fifth in the Ivy League.