Sports

Men’s soccer takes reins in opening split

Brown outshoots two opponents 30-16, shuts out BU, but loses to Siena on missed opportunities

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, September 8, 2014

Tariq Akeel ’16 came up with a big goal in the 85th minute against No. 23 Boston University, heading a cross into the net for the decisive tally in Bruno’s 1-0 victory.

The men’s soccer team split its opening weekend action, falling to Siena College (3-0-0) at home before taking down No. 23 Boston University (2-2-0) on the road.

The Bears outclassed both of their opponents on the offensive end of the field and were unlucky to come away with just one win this weekend, said co-captain Ben Maurey ’15.5.

 

Friday: Brown 1, Siena 2

More than 1,600 fans surrounded Stevenson Field for the Bears’ first game of the season. The Saints came into the game riding a two-game winning streak, but Bruno threatened to hand them their first loss of the season throughout the night.

The first half was filled with duels in the midfield, chippy fouls and stagnant offenses. Bruno controlled the majority of the half, moving the ball around the backline and up the flanks effectively. Co-captain Daniel Taylor ’15 and James Myall ’18 connected on a number of combination plays on the right side, but for the most part, the two teams just surveyed each other, searching for an opening in the first 45 minutes.

“A big part of our success is communication,” Myall said. Taylor “is really great to work with. He tells me where I should be, and I tell him where he should be when we can’t see the ball. For the first couple weeks, we’ve been jelling really well out there.”

In contrast, the second half was marked by scoring opportunities for both teams. Three minutes into the half, Siena’s Alexander Tejera received a pass on the left corner of Bruno’s 18-yard box. Tejera turned, opened his hips and curled a shot over the outstretched arm of Bruno goalie Mitch Kupstas ’14.5 into the side netting.

Just two minutes later, Saints midfielder Nathan Olukanmi was taken down in the box by Kupstas. No cards were given out, but Siena was awarded a penalty kick. Nick Theobald slotted the spot kick past a diving Kupstas to open a two-goal lead.

“We were talking about that call a bit after the game,” Myall said. “From (Kupstas’) point of view, after the Siena player shot it, he ran into (Kupstas) and (Kupstas) was just holding his ground. So, we didn’t think it was the best call, but there wasn’t anything we could do about it.”

The Bears were not discouraged by the deficit, and played their best soccer in the final third of the game. At the 65-minute mark, Myall drove a cross to the back post, where Maurey was waiting. The striker coolly deflected the ball in the bottom corner, cutting the Saints’ lead to one.

Bruno continued to pour on the pressure, pushing higher and higher up the field. The team took 15 shots in the second half, peppering Siena keeper Josh Weiss and forcing him to make six saves. With 20 minutes remaining, Jack Gorab ’16 fired a volley at Weiss, who parried the shot to the side with his fingertips. Eight minutes later, Weiss charged a ball that had been played over the top, but failed to properly clear it. With the goalie off his line and the net completely empty, Quinn English ’18 narrowly missed tying the game, as his shot sailed just over the crossbar.

The Saints kept the Bears at bay and escaped with a 2-1 win. Bruno finished the game with a 20-8 advantage in shots and 9-2 advantage in corners.

In future games, “we need to finish our chances,” Myall said. “We switched off for the first couple minutes of the second half and that’s what hurt us. We just need to stay focused for the full 90 minutes.”

 

Brown 1, BU 0

Following their narrow loss to Siena, the Bears travelled to Nickerson Field to take on the Terriers. BU was also looking to bounce back from a loss to the Saints earier in the week.

Bruno dominated the first half, letting five shots fly at BU’s goal and forcing goalie Nick Thomson to make three saves. Taylor took one shot in the half and led the team with three shots by the end of the game.

The Bears’ backline also tightened up, holding BU shotless in the first half. The Terriers managed to fire eight shots in the second half, but missed the target on all of them. Kupstas did not have to make a save the entire night.

“We kept our defensive integrity for the full 90 minutes,” Maurey said. “We were blocking shots, kept the shutout going and didn’t have a defensive lapse like we did against Siena.”

Despite Bruno’s offensive onslaught, the first half ended in a scoreless draw. It took another 40 minutes of soccer for somebody to break the deadlock.

That somebody was last year’s leading scorer Tariq Akeel ’16. In the 85th minute, Maurey was fouled 35 yards from the goal. Gorab swung the free kick into the box, where Akeel met it with his head. The flick-on sailed into the upper 90, where Thomson “had no chance of saving it,” Maurey said.

“Set pieces are a real strength of ours,” Maurey said. “We’ve got a lot of tall guys on this team, and we took advantage of that today.”

The Bears’ offense was on a roll all weekend, with the team outshooting their opponents by a combined 30-16 margin. They were also more accurate than their opponents, putting 13 of their 30 shots on target, compared to five of 16 for Siena and BU together.

“The offense has been playing great. We’ve had a ton of chances, we just need to make sure to finish them,” Maurey said. “A goal a game will take us real far if we keep up our defensive effort.”

Bruno’s next test will be against cross-town rival Providence College (3-1-0) on Friday back home at Stevenson Field.

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