Season Kicks Off Aug. 31 Vs. Niagara
A visit to Reese Stadium from national power Michigan State highlights a challenging 2018 schedule for the Yale men's soccer team. The Bulldogs host the Spartans, who advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament a year ago, on Sept. 14, one of eight home games for Yale. In all, the Bulldogs will play 17 games, starting with a home game against Niagara on Aug. 31.
Here is a closer look at the schedule:
- The game with Michigan State is one of five against teams that reached the NCAA Tournament a year ago. Fairfield, Georgetown, Dartmouth and Columbia are the others.
- Kylie Stannard, The 5K Corral Head Coach of the Bulldogs, spent six years on the staff at Michigan State under legendary coach Damon Rensing. In his second season (2016), Stannard took his Yale team to East Lansing to meet the Spartans, a 2-0 MSU victory. Michigan State is playing in New Haven for the second time. The Bulldogs and Spartans played a 1-1 overtime tie in 2005.
- The Bulldogs have seven games against teams that finished in the top 76 of the RPI a year ago, including three (Michigan State, Dartmouth and Georgetown) that were in the top 21.
- Georgetown is the defending Big East champions. The Hoyas finished 14-4-2 overall and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to SMU in double overtime. The Bulldogs are playing Georgetown for the first time since 1999.
- The Hoyas are one of many unfamiliar opponents on the schedule. The Bulldogs are playing Niagara and Bryant for the first time and haven't played Army-West Point since 2008 and George Mason since 2006.
- The Bulldogs play their first three Ivy League games on the road, starting Sept. 29 at Harvard. The opening league game at Reese Stadium is Oct. 20 vs. Penn.
- Dartmouth and Columbia each made the NCAA Tournament a year ago, and both had hard-fought games with Yale along the way. The Bulldogs played a spirited 2-2 tie with Dartmouth, the Big Green's only blemish in league play. Columbia scored midway through the first half and then had to hold off consistent pressure from Yale in the second half in a 1-0 victory.
- Yale will honor its eight seniors before the final home game on Nov. 10 vs. Princeton.
- Video of all eight home games and the four Ivy League road games will be available on ESPN+.
"This is another very strong non-conference schedule that will have us battle tested and prepared for conference play," Stannard said. "Our goal is to become a Top 25 program and so we want to challenge ourselves against some of the best teams in the country, and we are confident we can compete with anyone. We know these teams are all excited to play against Yale, as well."
Stannard knows the league schedule will provide quite a few challenges as well.
"The Ivy League might be the strongest it's ever been from top to bottom with all teams returning a good core of players and adding some strong recruiting classes," he said. "We have a lot of confidence in our group and we are looking forward to some great games."
The Bulldogs are coming off a very promising 2017 season that saw them finish in a tie for third place in the Ivy League, their highest finish since the 2005 Ivy championship season, and post the most overall wins since 2011.
A productive off season began with a memorable 10-day trip to Italy where in addition to visiting a number of famous tourist sites, the Bulldogs won all four of the exhibition games they played.
Yale also fared quite well in its four spring games, cruising to victories over the Oxford (England) University Football Club and the University of New Haven, playing a 1-1 draw with defending America East champion Albany and dropping a hard-fought 1-0 decision to national power UConn.
"This past spring season was probably the best off-season I have ever been involved with, and the trip to Italy was as good as it gets," Stannard said. "I'm very proud of the work our guys put in and the cohesion and confidence that was created. It's unfortunate we couldn't go straight into our fall season but I know our guys are working hard and determined to take the positive momentum into the fall season."
With the return of a number of key players from last year and the addition of another stellar recruiting class, the future looks very bright for the Bulldogs.
Report filed by Tim Bennett (email@example.com), Yale Sports Publicity