Sports

Despite scoring, men’s soccer splits at home

A late equalizer and OT tally put Providence past Bruno, but Bears rebound to beat Lehigh

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, September 15, 2014

The men’s soccer team scored plenty of goals in its first two-game homestand of the season, but it could not come away with two wins. The Bears dropped the first game to Providence College in an extra-time thriller, but bounced back and took down Lehigh University in the second game of the weekend.

 

Friday: Providence 3, Brown 2 (extra time)

The first game of the weekend started out slow but turned into a shootout in the second half. PC (4-2-0) struck first with just two minutes remaining in the first half. The Friars won a free kick near the left corner of the Bears’ box. Markus Naglestad, one of PC’s three talented strikers, curled the ball toward the far post, where it found its way through traffic and into the back of the net.

Not to be outdone, Jack Gorab ’16 lined up a free kick from almost an identical spot on the field 25 minutes later. The midfielder’s free kick was inadvertently flicked into PC’s net by a Friar defender, but Gorab received credit for the game-tying goal.

After another 13 minutes of game time, Jameson Lochhead ’16 swung a corner to the back post, where Nate Pomeroy ’17 was strategically positioned. Despite a defender being draped all over him, the forward kept his focus and headed the ball past PC’s goalie Keasel Broome to give Bruno the lead.

Pomeroy’s header represented Bruno’s fourth goal of the season and its third off of a set piece. Pomeroy, Ben Maurey ’15.5 and Tariq Akeel ’16 are all forces in the air and consistently beat their defenders to headers, allowing the Bears to score many goals off of set plays.

“We’ve done very well on set pieces so far,” Gorab said. “It’s something we know we can do. Teams are going to start looking out for it, but we’re going to keep playing the ball into the box whenever we get the opportunity.”

But the Bears could not enjoy their lead for very long. In the 83rd minute, Friar striker Mac Steeves collected the ball with his back to Brown’s goal, 35 yards out. The forward took one touch, gracefully turned past a Brown defender and launched a rocket over Mitch Kupstas’ ’14.5 reach to re-tie the game.

A winner could not be determined after 90 minutes, so the game went to extra time. Unfortunately for the Bears, just three minutes into the first extra period, the Friars capitalized on a misplayed back pass. Daniel Neustadter found himself in a one-on-one situation with Kupstas and slotted the ball past the diving keeper to give PC the win.

“I thought the guys played well,” said Head Coach Patrick Laughlin. “It’s unfortunate. The margins are so small in college soccer. You make one mistake at the wrong time and it’s over. That what happened tonight.”

 

Sunday: Brown 2, Lehigh 1

Less than 48 hours later, Bruno retook the field to face the Mountain Hawks (3-2-0) and their star midfielder James Luchini.

Lochhead’s name was called during the lineup announcements, replacing incumbent centerback Mike Leone ’17 in the starting 11. Laughlin cited both a need to rest Leone after a gruelling night against PC and a desire to give Lochhead a chance to play as the motives for the lineup switch. Leone entered the game at the start of the second half to replace Lochhead, who logged a solid 45 minutes of work.

The Bears came out flat to start the game, giving the ball away in the midfield and affording Lehigh with a number of chances to score. Just ten minutes into the game, a Lehigh forward had a one-on-one opportunity against Kupstas, but the senior keeper charged hard off his line and made a reflex save to keep the game scoreless.

Despite forcing Kupstas to make four saves in the half, Lehigh could not crack the Bears’ defense. When the halftime whistle blew, the game remained a scoreless draw.

Bruno changed the tempo of the game at the start of the second half. Just a minute in, Quinn English ’18 chucked one of his patented long throws into the box. The ball bounced around before Akeel nodded it past Lehigh keeper Ciaran Nugent to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.

English’s throw-ins are “a big advantage for us,” Laughlin said. “But we haven’t really worked on a play for them. We know he has it in his arsenal, and we just kind of rely on the scramble in front of the box that it creates. The guys did a good job of keeping the ball alive.”

The Bears continued to pressure Lehigh’s backline, playing balls from a variety of locations into the box and looking for headers. Pomeroy missed two good opportunities in the 66th and 72nd minutes, pushing two headers just wide of the frame.

The team’s failure to capitalize on its chances came back to haunt it when Luchini corralled the ball at the top of Bruno’s box. The talented midfielder danced through a barrage of Brown defenders and slotted the ball through Kupstas’ legs and just inside the far post to level the score at one.

But just three minutes later, super-sub Will Cross ’16 came through for Bruno. Pomeroy drove the ball to the touchline and was looking for Louis Zingas ’18, who was roaming around the box. The ball found its way to the top of the 18-yard box, where Cross met it with his right foot. The ball rang off the bottom of the crossbar and into the back of the net to give Bruno the lead once again.

“On a ball like that, (Cross) is the guy I want taking the shot,” Laughlin said. “He just strikes the ball so well. I’m really happy with the way (Cross) played — his minutes were great, and it made a big difference for us because a lot of our guys were fatigued from the Providence game.”

“I didn’t think about it. It was instinctual,” Cross said of his goal. “That’s what you’re supposed to do on shots like that. If you think about it, you’re going to hit it over the bar. So I just ran on to it and hit it well.”

Luchini had one final chance with just 45 seconds left in the game, after Kupstas unintentionally touched the ball with his hands outside of the box. Luchini skied the ensuing free kick over the bar, and the Bears escaped with their first home win of the season.

The squad’s next action will take place in Florida, where the team will compete against University of South Florida (2-2-0) and Florida Gulf Coast University (1-2-2) in the USF/FGCU Tournament, Sept. 18-20.

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