NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The large crowd that turned out at Reese Stadium for Saturday’s home opener got a first-hand look at what appears to be a much improved Yale squad. The Bulldogs played with confidence and poise in an impressive 2-0 victory over Sacred Heart on a hot and humid night.
At 1-0-1, Yale has a better than .500 overall record for the first time since the end of the 2011 season.
The shutout was the first for the Bulldogs since a 1-0 win over Temple in 2014.
“This was a complete performance and my staff and I are extremely excited for this team,” said Kylie Stannard, the 5K Corral Head Coach of the Bulldogs. “We controlled this game and dictated how we wanted the game to be played. The team executed the tactics very well overall. We also showed a lot of composure and discipline for a young group, and our older guys are doing a great job of leading.”
After a scoreless first half, Yale struck first when Nicky Downs scored on a penalty kick at 47:17. Kyle Kenagy was tripped in the box, leading to the goal.
Downs played a role in the second goal as well when his steal at midfield led to a 2-on-1. Downs dribbled down the side before sending a perfect cross to freshman John Leisman, who tapped it into a wide open goal at 70:16.
It was the first career goal for Leisman, who played for the U.S. Soccer Academy Sporting Kansas City.
That was more than enough for a Yale defense that kept an athletic Sacred Heart front line in check throughout the game.
Goalkeeper Kees Schipper made three saves to post his first career shutout.
“What we are most excited about is how balanced we were this game from back to front,” Stannard said. “We talk about this a lot and I'm especially excited for these guys to get a shutout. We haven't had that in a long time, and it shows how committed this team is to embracing all aspects of the game. If we can continue this level of commitment, a lot of good things will happen with this team.”
Both teams finished with 12 shots, but the Bulldogs were the more dangerous team.
Yale had the better opportunities in the scoreless first half. Downs had the first good chance but his free kick from just outside the box was snared by Sacred Heart goalkeeper Robert Strain.
A few minutes later off a corner kick, Kenagy rocketed a shot that went just over the crossbar.
Strain foiled another great chance when he rushed toward the top of the box to smother a shot from Ollie Iselin, who had gotten behind the Pioneer defense.
The Bulldogs take on another in-state rival on Wednesday when they travel to Quinnipiac. Kickoff is slated for 4:30 p.m.