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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The Sweet Sixteen is a reality for the Judges after two tough wins away from home

Published: November 16, 2012
Section: Sports

After a successful 13-4-2 season, the Judges found themselves at the NCAA tournament last weekend. Before Saturday’s match, the Judges were riding a high-tide from the 3-0 win against NYU to end their season.

With a losing record against UAA teams this season, the victory over NYU was all the more impressive. This provided the Judges with a needed lift as they went into the tournament, as the clean sheet with the three goals showcased the consistently strong defense along with the clutch scoring power in the offensive zone. This has been the formula for success all season. In fact, the losses that the Judges have suffered this season occurred when more than one goal had been scored in a match. This weekend, the Judges only allowed one goal in two matches, continuing the trend with two wins and a berth to the next weekend of tournament play, the Sweet Sixteen.

The first match of the tournament for the Judges resulted in a 2-1 victory against Union College in overtime, while the second match on Sunday concluded with a 3-0 victory against previous opponent Lasell. In one match, play was hotly contested as overtime was needed to decide the winner, while in the other match Brandeis dominated play.

“We did really well,” Melissa Darling ’16 said. “The first game was close but, overall, for both games we played so good—both our offense and defense was really good—and we controlled the ball pretty well against both teams.” Statistically, the Union match was impartial to both sides while the Lasell match was true to Darling’s description: a match dominated by the Judges’ stellar play.

In the first match against Union, the Judges’ opponents dominated possession in the first half and scored a goal off a well-struck corner. The Judges, however, scored the first goal of the entire match and the first half when Haley Schacter ’16 touched a rebound across the line just three minutes into the match. Overall, the first half was owned by Union but the scoreline stayed even at 1-1 at halftime.

The Judges had more of a presence in the next half with better control of possession and more chances to score near the net. The pace of the match also increased as the ball moved end-to-end with more frequency and consistency. Both sides had close calls near the goal with diving saves by the keepers and nearly-missed shots by the strikers.

After 90 minutes, with the score tied, the sides prepared for overtime. Neither team had to wait long as Brandeis scored a goal in just two minutes. Hero of the overtime play, Sara Isaacson ’16, made a spectacular strike from 20 yards that ended the match.

The second match against Lasell unfolded very differently as the Judges were unchallenged throughout the match, playing solid defense and generating scoring chances that added up to 16 shots with eight on goal for Brandeis against nine shots with four on goal for Lasell. The first goal, in the 13th minute, was made by the Judges’ leading goal scorer, Dara Spital ’15, who crossed a ball over to the left side of the box. It was then handled by Sapir Edalati ’15 who then passed the keeper for the score. This was Edalati’s seventh goal of the season.

The second goal, in the 49th minute, would follow a similar script with Isaacson, volleying a ball onto the left side of the box, which was then brought down by Madeline Stein ’14 and pushed deftly passed the keeper at close range. Already with a 2-0 lead in the second half, the Judges’ last goal, a brilliant header off a corner kick, was purely an insurance shot. Alyssa Fenenbock ’15 would strike the corner with Schacter behind the header and goal, it would be her second goal in as many days. Lasell suffered another one-sided loss because of these goals and because of the aforementioned defense.

The team’s core is its consistent defense, which proved itself yet again this weekend. This not only includes the back defensive line but the two keepers as well. Michelle Savuto ’15 and Francine Kofinas ’13 have been sharing time all season and have played remarkably as the last stop of the Judges’ defense. Their contribution and the play of the back four must be consistent if Brandeis wants to get past this next weekend of play.

The Judges will face off against their next opponent, SUNY Cortland, Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Ithaca, N.Y.