When forward Kojo Dadzie ’24 slotted home a penalty kick in the 63rd minute of Saturday’s game between the men’s soccer team (8-6-3, 0-4-3 Ivy League) and Yale (7-4-5, 2-3-2), it looked as if the Bears might conclude their season with their first win against Ivy League competition.
But a raucous Brown supporter section had barely begun celebrating when Yale answered in the 67th minute and netted another in the 88th, delivering a heartbreaking end to Brown’s season on the Bears’ senior night.
“We were in the game for most of it. It’s just a couple moments that happened,” Dadzie said. “I wish we could’ve done it for the seniors.”
It is the first time since 1958 that the Bears have failed to win a game in the Ivy League, broadcasters said on ESPN+, despite going 8-1 in non-conference play this season.
“The games in Ivy League are different,” Head Coach Chase Wileman said. “It’s not necessarily a soccer or tactical thing, it’s a lot about mentality and fight and doing the right things, … and those are the things we need to address.”
With a total of 23 fouls, the game was a scrappy affair, which resulted in an unpolished deadlock in the first half: Both teams were stuck battling for the ball in the center of the park as scoring chances came exclusively from set pieces. Yale had the majority of possession and the only shot on target in the first 45 minutes, while Brown struggled to connect consecutive passes with its 5-4-1 formation.
But in the second half, Wileman moved to a 5-3-2, a decision that gave the Bears more control on the ball.
“We thought they were going to play one way, and they came out a different way to start the game. They’re a pretty direct team, and we were struggling to put pressure on the ball. We switched to two up top so we could get more pressure on the ball,” Wileman said.
In the 63rd minute, wing-back Tanner Barry ’25 sent a waist-high cross into the middle of the box where it struck the hand of a Yale defender, forcing the referee to give a penalty kick.
Dadzie stepped up, driving the ball into the side netting while sending the Yale goalkeeper the wrong way.
But just four minutes later, Yale midfielder Max Rogers sent in a driven corner kick that was met at the near post by an onrushing and unchallenged Yale defender Jeremy Haddock, who thundered a powerful header past Brown goalkeeper Henrik Weiper ’26.
Ten minutes later, the Bulldogs had a golden opportunity to take the lead on their own penalty kick, granted after a Yale attacker’s bicycle kick shot hit the hand of defender Taha Kina ’24.
But on Yale attacker Paolo Carroll’s ensuing spot kick, Weiper dove to his right and made a sprawling save to keep the game knotted at one.
“We analyze the penalty kicks from our opponent. I knew they shot most of the time across their body,” Weiper said.
Weiper denied Carroll again later in the game, making another diving save on a powerful header.
But as Yale continued to up the attacking pressure, Weiper was eventually beaten once again. With just three minutes to play, Carroll, on the right wing, sent in a curling cross for forward Eric Lagos, who thudded a header into the side netting past Weiper’s outstretched arm. The score guaranteed the Bulldogs the away victory.
“In the first 20 minutes of the second half, I thought we were playing really well. We get a goal and then after that we stop doing everything that we had been doing in the first 20 minutes, Wileman said. “We kept dropping off, we kept allowing them to get balls in the box.”
“It’s not just this game,” Wileman added. “That’s been a problem this entire season, just in terms of game management and mentality.”
After a heartbreaking conclusion to their college careers, Brown’s seniors were honored in a post-game ceremony.
“They are incredible leaders, incredibly nice people, really caring and loving people,” Weiper said. “I’m really, really, really going to miss them. They graduate now, but this friendship will last forever.”
Finishing his first season as head coach, Wileman will now try to improve upon the program, which has not had a winning record in the Ivy League since 2015.
“We’re not far off, but we’re also not getting them over the line and getting wins,” Wileman said, mentioning that all but two of the team’s losses this season came by just one goal. “It’s going to take a lot of work to start turning those good performances into wins.”