Sports

Despite stalling offense, men’s soccer salvages extra-time draws

Bruno keeps Catamounts, Stags off scoreboard, but offense fails to capitalize on opportunities

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, September 29, 2014

The Bears huddle up as a team before the start of a game. The defenders carried the team this weekend, shutting out both the University of Vermont and Fairfield University.

A revitalized backline flexed its defensive prowess this weekend, as the men’s soccer team kept its opponents off the scoreboard for 220 minutes. Unfortunately for the Bears, their opponents accomplished the exact same feat, leading to two double-overtime scoreless draws.

The Bears (2-3-3) blanked an usually potent University of Vermont (5-3-1) offense in a scrappy game Friday under the lights at Stevenson Field. They followed up that performance with a lackluster offensive showing in their afternoon contest against Fairfield University (3-2-2).

 

Friday: Brown 0, Vermont 0 (2OT)

The Bears toyed with their lineup at the start of the game against the Catamounts. Jack Gorab ’16, usually a center defensive midfielder, slid over to the left side, while Eduardo Martin ’16 earned a start in Gorab’s usual spot.

Gorab “played all of last season on the left side,” said Head Coach Patrick Laughlin. “He provides a lot of attack for us in that spot.”

Martin gives the Bears some offensive support from a defensive position and has a lot of experience doing so, as he started 12 games last season in a similar role, Laughlin said.

The team put the ball at Gorab’s feet early, looking to the speedy midfielder to create opportunities along the sideline. Ten minutes into the first half, Gorab had a good look at goal from the top of the 18 but pulled his shot wide. Martin, on the other hand, looked a little out of sorts, losing the ball in the midfield on a couple of occasions.

The Catamounts played an inconsistent half of soccer. At times, they struggled to complete even a single pass, but seemingly out of nowhere, they would string together long combination plays that had Bruno’s defense on its heels.

Vermont also made a strange choice on the defensive side of the ball. Its two starting center backs, Brad Cole and Nile Walwyn, both stand over six feet tall and proved throughout the game that they had aerial abilities. Yet Ben Maurey ’15.5 was shadowed by the 5-foot-10, 155-pound left back Arthur Bacquet for much of the first half.

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound striker manhandled the smaller defender, beating him to a number of balls over the top and in one-on-one situations.

Maurey’s “movement without the ball was the best it’s been all season,” Laughlin said. “He’s so strong and big, but he’s easier to deal with if he stays central. When he gets out wide, it causes problems for other teams.”

Laughlin praised Maurey for the three or four crosses he created simply by beating his defender over the course of the game. Unfortunately for the Bears, Maurey was often playing balls into an empty box, as not enough players could get forward in time to support his attack.

At the end of regulation, Vermont had outshot Bruno 13-4, while the Bears held an 8-6 lead in corners. In extra time, neither keeper was forced to make a save, as the game inevitably ended in a scoreless draw.

Laughlin expressed his satisfaction with the number of chances his team created and wagered that sooner or later some of Maurey’s crosses would turn into goals for the likes of Nate Pomeroy ’17 and Tyler Long ’17.

 

Sunday: Brown 0, Fairfield 0 (2OT)

For their second game of the weekend, the Bears travelled out to Connecticut to take on the Stags. Fairfield possesses one of the nation’s premier defenses, entering the game with a 0.48 goals against average — the 13th best mark in the nation.

The game turned out to be a defensive stalemate, as neither team could crack the other’s backline. The Bears managed to get just three shots on goal, all of which Fairfield keeper Matt Turner handled easily. Bruno’s defense one-upped Fairfield’s backline, keeping the Stags from getting a single shot on goal for the entire 110 minutes of play.

Goalkeeper Mitch Kupstas ’14.5 and the Bears’ backline earned their fourth shutout of the season and third in a row. In those four clean sheets, the squad has started three different sets of defenders. Gabe Welp ’18 and Tim Whalen ’16 have anchored the group, while some combination of James Myall ’18, Alex Markes ’15, Jameson Lochhead ’16 and Mike Leone ’17 have filled in the remaining spots.

The selection of the backline “is related to health and form,” Laughlin said. Markes, Welp, Lochhead and Whalen are “playing well, and when you feel confident in yourself as a group, it helps. As long as they can stay healthy, we’re very happy with those four guys.”

Bruno’s 3-1 trouncing at the hands of University of South Florida (4-3-0) over a week ago served as a wake up call for the defense, Laughlin said.

“Getting (Markes) back has also helped, he’s been outstanding,” Laughlin said. “To bring another guy who’s really physical and has a lot of experience into the back has made a big difference. I’m happy as can be after 330 minutes of not giving up a goal.”

The Bears will have an opportunity to rebound from three straight scoreless efforts next weekend in their Ivy League opener against Columbia (3-3-0), a team that has given up nine goals in six games.

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