Aug. 20, 2004
The outlook is bright for the 2004 Yale men's soccer team. The Bulldogs lose only two starters from last year's team that won 10 games and was second in the competitive Ivy League, Yale's best finish since 1998. In his eight years as head coach, Brian Tompkins has guided his team to at least 10 wins five times and a better than .500 mark in seven of those eight years.
The Bulldogs figure to be serious contenders for the Ivy League title in 2004. Tompkins' squad features a balanced attack - five of last year's top six scorers return, along with the majority of a defense that yielded only 18 goals in 17 games.
"The 2004 season will be as challenging as any we have faced for quite some time," Tompkins said. "We have an exciting non-conference schedule that will test our capabilities, and I believe we have the talent, experience and leadership to be a good team. We will face teams from the very best conferences in the country and the experience will be invaluable preparation for another tough Ivy campaign. It will be important to integrate some new faces into key roles, but we will count on Andrew Dealy, Ryan Raybould and our other veteran players to have significant influence on the field."
Offensively, a trio of seniors provide plenty of firepower. Andrew Dealy, who led the Ivy League in assists (8) last year and was second in game-winning goals (4), was a first team All-Ivy and All-New England selection. A CollegeSoccerNews preseason third team All-America selection, Dealy also led Yale in points (18) and tied for the team lead in goals (5). Ryan Raybould, the team captain, is a scoring threat as well. He has 17 career points and is a two-time honorable mention All-Ivy selection. Lindsey Williams led the Ivy League in points (24) and tied for the lead in goals (10) as a sophomore. Last year, he earned honorable mention All-Ivy recognition after finishing fourth on the team in points (7) and goals (3).
Sophomore Alex Munns had an outstanding rookie season. He was third on the team in goals (4) and points (9). Two of his goals were game-winners and came in 1-0 victories over UConn and Harvard. Gage Hills enjoyed a strong freshman season as well, appearing in all 17 games. His first career goal was the game-winner against Quinnipiac.
Junior Louis Pacilio, a clever and skillful midfielder, and sophomore Jordan Rieger, who started three games as a rookie, provide the Bulldogs with plenty of scoring depth. Senior Aaron Rodriguez has overcome some serious injuries and had an excellent spring.
"Our attack will feature a good blend of speed, skill and strength," Tompkins said. "Lindsey Williams can be an offensive spark-plug, and our sophomore strikers, Gage Hills and Alex Munns, should begin to blossom and make their marks on the scoresheet."
Junior Jon Skalecki, who made a successful return last fall after missing all of 2002 with a knee injury, is Yale's defensive anchor. He has started all 32 games he has appeared in at Yale. Juniors Shannon Brooks and Ryan Morrissey also are experienced defenders. Brooks started a career-high 15 games last fall, while Morrissey has the potential to make 2004 a break out season after being limited to 10 games last year because of injury.
Sophomore Jake Miller started the first two games last year and had an impressive spring season. Tompkins has high expectations for Miller this fall. Sophomore Josh Block gained valuable experience as a freshman, appearing in eight games, and is a candidate for increased playing time. Three other sophomores - Nick Franchot, James Stewart and Evan Stone - should all be regular contributors.
Yale has two experienced goalkeepers. Matt Aleksinas played every minute of every game last year. He finished second in the Ivy League in shutouts (7) and was third in goals against average (1.04). Senior Geoff Hollington received a medical waiver and returns after missing all of last season with a back injury. In 2002, he started 13 games and tied for third in the league in shutouts (3). Sophomore Greg Carlson and freshmen Erik Geiger (Chatham, NJ) and Dwayne Whylly (Nassau, Bahamas) provide depth in goal. Whylly has experience on the Bahamas national youth and under-23 teams.
"Good individual and team defense will be a high priority, and we will rely on the improving Matt Aleksinas in goal and Jon Skalecki's leadership and experience in the back," Tompkins said.
In addition to Geiger and Whylly, five other newcomers join the squad - sophomore Ratko Jovic (Belgrade, Serbia) and freshmen James Craig (Federal Way, WA), Matt Newman (Tampa, FL), Sam Post (Washington, DC) and Colin Taft-McPhee (Minneapolis, MN).