Tigers' First-Half Goal Spoils Bulldogs' Senior Day Celebration
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Yale University men's soccer team celebrated the careers of five seniors prior to facing Princeton in the final game of the 2012 season Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the Tigers were able to take advantage of one of the few offensive opportunities in the game, which was enough to spoil Yale's Senior Day celebration.
Senior Matt Sanner just managed to sneak his header past Yale's senior goalkeeper Bobby Thalman in the game's 34th minute to lift Princeton to the 1-0 win at Yale's Reese Stadium.
"It is disappointing," Yale head coach Brian Tompkins said. "It wasn't the kind of game that we were hoping that we would finish with and certainly that our seniors would finish their careers on. It was a tough game. It was a very scrappy, emotional game. I don't think either team ever really settled down. It wasn't a very well-played game overall."
Sanner's goal was enough to push the Tigers to an 8-6-2 overall finish and a 4-1-2 record in Ivy League play.
"Sanner got the header on it. I thought Bobby had it, but he just didn't push it hard enough to get it wide of the post so it kind of crept under him," Tompkins said. "Sanner did a good job to get his head on that, but that is one that Bobby was a bit unlucky not to keep that out."
Yale, which fell to 4-8-5 overall and 1-4-3 in Ivy League play, managed to put together a late push in the final minutes of the game, but the Bulldogs could not convert any of the opportunities produced in that span in a last-ditch effort to tie the game.
"Credit our guys, we gave a much better showing in the second half and we fought our way back into it," Tompkins said. "The ball just wouldn't bounce for us today. It's disappointing that the seniors could not go out with a win, but that's the way it goes sometimes."
Princeton ended the game with a 10-4 edge in shots, but Yale had a better percentage of quality shots in the game as Thalman and Princeton's second-half goalkeeper, Seth MacMillan, only had to make two saves apiece.
All four of Yale's shots came in the second half, but even during that late push, bad timing seemed to slow the Bulldogs' offensive rushes down. Several of Yale's opportunities were stopped by the referee's whistle because of offsides calls.
In the end, the seniors went down fighting. Andy Hackbarth and Milan Tica each had a shot in the game, while Thalman, last week's Ivy League Player of the Week kept his team within striking distance in the closing minutes.
The Bulldogs have 19 players returning next season, including eight players who will be seniors in 2013.
Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity