Sports

Men’s soccer falls in opener of tough weekend

Defensive unit falters as Bruno surrenders three goals to University of South Florida

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, September 19, 2014

As the temperature in Providence enters its pre-winter free fall, the men’s soccer team flew south to enjoy some warm weather and stiff competition in the Sunshine State. A strong showing from the University of South Florida gave the Bears an unwelcome arrival with a 3-1 defeat Thursday.

The Bears (2-3-0) arrived in Florida Wednesday afternoon, giving them enough time to hold a team practice that evening and adjust to the heat, said co-captain Ben Maurey ’15.5.

Once a season, Bruno makes a trip to face a non-conference opponent that is often nationally ranked in the top 20. Two years ago, the squad flew out to the West Coast and took down the University of Washington (4-1-0), a perennial top-10 team, in overtime. Last year, the Bears dropped a close game to the reigning NCAA champion University of Indiana (3-1-2). This season, Bruno squares off with two “technically sound and talented” teams — South Florida (3-2-0) and Florida Gulf Coast University (1-3-2), Maurey said.

The South Florida Bulls received 20 votes in the latest NCAA rankings poll, gaining an unofficial ranking of 36th in the country. The FGCU Eagles were No. 24 in the last poll, but were dropped from the rankings after two consecutive losses.

The Bears aspire to compete with the level of talent represented by USF and FGCU. An impressive showing this weekend would propel the Bears into the ranking conversations, Maurey said.

“These are always some of the toughest games of the season,” Maurey said. “We go play these teams that are better than the competition we will see in the Ivy League, so it’s great practice for us. We do it every year and it’s one of the highlights of the season.”

The two Florida squads possess talent on both sides of the ball and have showcased an ability to beat teams with both their offense and defense.

“They’re both very technically sound teams,” Maurey said. “It’s an entirely different style of play. They have players that have the potential to go pro, they’re fast, they’re going to have tons of fans, so it’s going to take a lot to beat them. We’re going to be running a lot, so our endurance needs to be on point. It’s going to be a challenge for our entire team.”

To compete with such talented sides, Bruno will have to continue the offensive dominance it has displayed over its last couple of games. The Bears netted four goals last weekend, posting two tallies on both Providence College (4-2-0) and Lehigh University (3-2-0).

“We’ve been so strong on offense this year, especially off of set pieces,” Maurey said. “We have a lot of big players and a lot of guys who can serve well. So we’ll continue to have opportunities off of those.”

Jack Gorab ’16 has mastered the art of delivering balls into the box with pace. The starting midfielder has already picked up a goal and an assist this season, both of which came off of set pieces.

Gorab “has been a free kick specialist for a while,” Maurey said. “We practice them a lot. He knows exactly where we’re going, and we know where he’s going to play the ball.”

The Bears also do their homework and scout opposing keepers. Gorab understands what types of balls each goalie struggles with and consistently looks to expose these weaknesses, Maurey said.

Despite the preparation, Bruno came up short against their first Sunshine opponent Thursday night. A potent offensive attack from South Florida overpowered Brown on the way to a 3-1 final.

The Bears’ starting lineup once again featured Jameson Lochhead ’16 in place of Mike Leone ’17. Nico Lozada ’18 also cracked the starting 11, replacing fellow first-year midfielder Louis Zingas ’18.

The Bulls wasted no time, opening the scoring just 15 minutes into the first half with a goal from midfielder Edwin Moalosi, his first of the season.

USF continued to put on the pressure, outshooting Brown 6-3 in the first 45 minutes. The Bears completely outpaced the Bulls 7-2 in corners but could not convert on any of their set piece opportunities.

One silver lining for Bruno came at the start of the second half, when Alex Markes ’15 entered a game for the first time this season. The talented senior sprained his MCL during the preseason and had not seen action until this game.

Markes’ first appearance was marred just 53 seconds into the second half, when the Bulls struck again, this time off the foot of Matthew O’Neal.

USF put one more past goalie Mitch Kupstas ’14.5 to balloon the lead up to three 30 minutes later. The Bears scored a consolation goal less than a minute later. Tyler Long ’17 was set up by James Myall ’18 for their first goal and assist of the season, respectively.

The Bears will have a few days to recover from their first game in the Florida heat before taking on their second opponent of the weekend, the Eagles, Saturday at 7 p.m.

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