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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Men’s soccer sees unbeaten streak end; rebound with three straight wins

Published: October 26, 2012
Section: Sports

Two weeks ago, the men’s soccer team 17-game unbeaten streak came to an end after a 1-0 defeat against the University of Chicago. Following the loss, the Judges dropped from ninth in the country to 18th in the country. But they responded from the loss by winning the next three games to improve their record to 14-1-1 (2-1-1 UAA).

Tyler Savonen ’13 believes that the end of the unbeaten streak may be a blessing in disguise.

“It can work to our advantage. We hadn’t felt a loss in a while,” Savonen said. “It motivated us. It gave us the taste of losing again. Now we can refocus and move on.”

Having won two games last week, the Judges entered their match against the Mount Ida College Mustangs, ranked 17th in the nation. The Judges completely dominated the Mustangs with a 5-0 victory. Midfielder Kyle Feather ’14 led the Judges on the day, tallying two goals, one in each half, as well as an assist.

The Judges started off the match strong, setting the tempo and striking first. Forward Sam Ocel ’13 put the Judges on the scoreboard just seven minutes into the match.

Forward Lee Russo ’13 rocketed a shot toward goal from 25 yards out that landed at Ocel’s feet after deflecting two defenders. Ocel immediately took advantage of the fortuitous bounce, slamming the ball home to give the Judges a 1-0 lead. The goal was Ocel’s seventh of the season. The goal also moved Ocel into 20th place on the Brandeis all-time points list.

Just two minutes after Ocel’s goal, the Judges struck again. Feather threaded the ball toward the goal box where Russo gained control and easily deposited the ball into the net, for his team-leading 12th goal of the season, to put the Judges up 2-0. With a goal and an assist on the day, Russo became the 10th in program history to reach 80 career points as he now sits in a ninth place tie on the Judges’ all-time scoring list.

The Judges kept the momentum going and immediately looked to put the game out of reach for the Mustangs with continued offensive pressure. Less than five minutes after Russo’s goal, Russo took a free kick in the Mustangs’ zone that Jake Picard ’16 had a chance to take, but was unable to put on goal. The defender’s attempt to clear the ball out of the zone went directly toward the foot of Feather who took advantage, slipping the ball past the keeper into the left corner to put the Judges ahead 3-0.

Brandeis enjoyed an 8-2 advantage in shots and a 4-1 advantage in corner kicks in the half.
While the Mustangs were able to keep the Judges off of the scoreboard during the first half, they were not so lucky in the second half. The Judges came back onto the field and once again dominated possession and dictated the pace of play as they duplicated their offensive efforts from the first half with a 13-6 advantage in shots and a 7-3 edge in corner kicks.

Feather continued his stellar game, opening up the scoring in the second half in the 58th minute. Midfielder Foti Andreo ’15 started the play off when he found defender Ben Applefield ’14 running down the right side of the field. Applefield then crossed the ball to the box where Feather blasted the ball past the keeper to put the Judges up 4-0.

In the 79th minute, after the Mustang’s keeper made an initial save on a rocket from forward Savonen, forward Chris Bradley ’16 wrapped up the scoring for the match when he gained control of the rebound. After gaining control of the rebound, Bradley dribbled the ball toward the other side of the keeper and tapped the ball into the empty side of the net.

Blake Minchoff ’13 once again shut out the opposing team, making one save in the first half while Joe Graffy ’15 and Kenn Fryer ’16 split the time in net in the second half, combining to make only one additional save as the Mustangs struggled to maintain or generate any offense.

Savonen argued that the teams execution was key in the victory.

“We played well and tired them out. We were the better team and we played to our level,” Savonen said. “It was good to have a game where we scored a lot to get our confidence up heading into the final stretch.”

If the Judges win their next three games they will win the UAA and automatically qualify for the NCAA tournament.

“Everyone is pumped up; we all know what’s at stake,” Savonen said. “We know we can win these games, but we just have to execute.”

If the Judges don’t win the UAA, they could still qualify for the NCAA tournament through an at-large bid; however, it’s not an ideal situation. The NCAA assigns at-large bids based on regions. Last year when the Judges were unable to win the UAA they had to hope to gain an at-large bid. Babson, however, who had been predicted to win their conference, failed to do so, and therefore took an at-large bid and the Judges did not qualify for NCAAs.

“We’d rather just win the upcoming games and get in. It’s better to keep it in our hands instead of leaving it up to someone else where anything can happen,” Savonen said.

The Judges will look to continue their new winning streak when they face Emory at home on Friday at 6:30 p.m. as they make their push toward winning the UAA and earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.