August 31, 2006

For Openers, It's Marist

Aug. 31, 2006

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Classes don't begin until next week, but the Yale men's soccer team takes its first test of the year when Marist visits Reese Stadium on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Bulldogs return 14 letterwinners and nine starters from last year's team that shared the Ivy League title, Yale's first league championship since 1991, and made an appearance in the NCAA College Cup for the first time since 1999.

The Bulldogs didn't start official practices until Aug. 24, so they have had limited time to get ready for the opener.

"We have had a very small window of time to prepare so there is always the concern that we might not be ready when the first whistle blows," said Yale head coach Brian Tompkins. "However, this is a tremendously focused and determined group and they have worked hard over the summer and have applied themselves extremely well this week in preparation for the challenges ahead."

Tompkins has been particularly pleased with the efforts of his eight seniors during the preseason.

"The most noticeable qualities have been the leadership and performance of the seniors," he said. "They are the essential heartbeat of the team and they affect all areas on the field be it offense or defense. As importantly, they are the gatekeepers of team spirit and togetherness and they have had a profound influence of the work rate and enthusiasm of the team. I look for them to be a key part of the team's success this season."

Marist opened the season with a 2-1 victory over Army on Monday night. Steve Fantuzzo and Jamison Allegra scored. Daniel Owens made 10 saves in goal. Keith Detelj was chosen as the 2006 MAAC Men's Soccer Preseason Player of the Year. Detelj, a two-time MAAC Championship Most Valuable Player, finished fourth on the league's scoring chart last season with 11 goals and five assists for 27 points for the Red Foxes. Marist was picked third in the MAAC's preseason poll. The Red Foxes have won the MAAC Tournament in each of the last two years.

"Marist established itself as a team to be reckoned with last season and its trip to the NCAA College Cup was no fluke," Tompkins said. "They are a well-coached team with some outstanding individual players and we will need to play well to get a result. Keith Detelj is one of the better strikers on the East Coast and we will need to find a way to neutralize his threat. Offensively, we will need to move the ball well take our chances when they present themselves. I expect it to be a close game."

The Bulldogs will be back at Reese Stadium when they host Boston College next Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity