Sports

M. soccer loses first of season against Harvard

By
Assistant Sports Editor
Thursday, October 22, 2009

The No. 18 men’s soccer team (7-1-5, 2-1-0 Ivy) faced its toughest road stretch of the season, when it fell just short, 1-0 to No. 11 Harvard (10-2-1, 2-0-1 Ivy) and notched a 1-1 tie with St. John’s (4-2-8).

Harvard 1, Brown 0

Heading into the game against Brown, Harvard had stumbled, 4-0, at No. 10 Connecticut, barely pulled out a double overtime win over Yale in its opening Ivy League game and notched a tie against Cornell in its second conference match.

Brown had claimed its previous three games over Columbia, Princeton and Rutgers heading into its third League game of the season.

“We weren’t 100 percent tuned in at the beginning of the game,” said Mike Manella ’12. “We lacked focus and intensity. We were prepared tactically, but not emotionally.”

The Bears started off the game with a valuable scoring chance, as TJ Thompson ’10 narrowly missed a goal from just outside the box that almost went under the hands of Austin Harms.

Both teams played evenly throughout the first half, as the Bears went into the locker room tied 0-0.

Harvard’s production on the night came from the center backs booting balls up the field over the Brown defenders’ heads. In the opening minutes of the second half, the Crimson’s game plan set up a perfect scoring opportunity.

“We did an exercise the day before focusing on this specific thing,” Manella said. “We knew what to look for, but had one defensive lapse.”

The ball was sent to midfield and the Bears lost possession. Harvard kicked it over the top of the defenders. The defense could not remain in its tight formation and Brian Rogers tapped a shot at the goal. The ball bounced back out to All-American Andre Akpan. Akpan took the ball one-on-one against Evan Coleman ’12. Coleman unfortunately blocked the view of Paul Grandstrand ’11, so he couldn’t get a good angle on Akpan’s shot that reached the back of the net at 47:49 to take the 1-0 lead. Akpan scored his eighth goal of the season for the Crimson.

In the 55th minute, Harvard’s Baba Omosegbon received a red card that led to a one-man advantage for Brown in the final 35 minutes of play. Grandstrand immediately picked up a weak cross and fell on the ball. Omosegbon then flew into Grandstrand feet first, resulting in the red card.

“We picked up the pace of the game and wanted to get that goal back quicker after Paul was hit,” Manella said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t put anything together.”

The Bears failed to tally a goal with the advantage and fell for the first time this season. Grandstrand (6-1-5) recorded four saves on the night for the Bears. Sean Rosa ’12 led the Bears offensively with four shots, three of which came on goal. Manella also strung together two shots to pace the offense.

Brown 1, St. John’s 1 (2OT)

Brown practiced two days before traveling to New York to take on St. John’s on Tuesday night. St. John’s had just come off a thrilling 3-2 overtime win against No. 8 Louisville on Saturday. Despite St. John’s four wins on the season, their eight ties tell a greater story of the level of play the team is capable of, Grandstrand said.

“St. John’s tries to win the ball in their attacking third,” he said. “It’s important that our forwards get through their initial pressure and that we play the game on their half of the field as much as possible.”

Nelson Becerra kept an offensive mindset throughout the game, as he created several scoring chances for the Red Storm in the 17th and 31st minutes. Grandstrand stood his ground and came up with the saves, as he played a vital role in keeping the game close throughout.

In the 36th minute, Nick Elenz-Martin ’10 picked put up a loose ball off of a St. John’s defender and nailed a shot to the back of the net from five yards out. Elenz-Martin now leads the club with five goals scored this season.

A corner kick in the 40th minute fell short of a goal for the Red Storm, as the defense cleared out the ball. The Bears maintained control of possession in the closing minutes and headed into the half with a 1-0 lead.

Thompson once again came out of the gate with a great shot on goal in the 47th minute that was saved by goalkeeper Derby Carrillo.

Becerra lined up for a free kick in the 55th minute that Grandstrand read perfectly, coming away with a great save to preserve the 1-0 lead. The Red Storm tallied two consecutive corner kicks just five minutes later, the second one leading to a hand ball called in the box on Brown that led to a Becerra penalty kick. He sent the ball right inside the left post, tying the game up at 1-1.

“Bouncing back — at least for this team — has always been one of our strengths,” Manella said. “We just needed to prove that after being up one goal, we could finish the game strong.”

But neither team could capitalize on scoring opportunities, forcing the game to go into overtime.

Brown’s ideal scoring chance came in the 97th minute after a Red Storm foul. Co-captain David Walls ’11 took the kick from 20 yards out, but it took an unlucky bounce off the crossbar.

Tadeu Terra put together a nice shot attempt in the 105th minute, but could not rally his team to victory like he had in St. John’s previous overtime game against Louisville. The game ended in a 1-1 tie after 110 minutes of play, the fifth tie for the Bears this season.

“After the loss against Harvard, we had to decide what our motivation was going to be for this game,” Grandstrand said. “We’re not looking at the past but looking at how we can grow and get better. We want to improve our performance and prove that we can bounce back.”

No. 15 Dartmouth leads the Ivy League with three wins and no losses and Harvard trails just behind the Big Green with two wins and one tie. Brown is currently in third place and will be another contender in the three-horse race for the Ivy League championship this season.

The Bears travel to Cornell (5-4-4, Ivy 0-1-2) on Saturday in their fourth Ivy League match of the year before returning home to take on Penn
on Nov. 1.

“Our focus is to win the Ivy League in order to get the automatic NCAA bid,” Manella said. “If we go out there with the right intensity and attitude, I think we’ll be fine.”