Sports

In men’s soccer, Bears seek fifth-straight shutout in duel with desperate Tigers

Following late victory over Columbia last weekend, Bears seek to lock down potent Princeton offense

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Senior Staff Writer
Nate Pomeroy ’17 fires a header high into the air. The sophomore striker has contributed a goal and an assist to Bruno’s attack and, if he returns to the field from an injury, could be an x-factor for the offense this weekend in its matchup against a weak Princeton defense.

Nate Pomeroy ’17 fires a header high into the air. The sophomore striker has contributed a goal and an assist to Bruno’s attack and, if he returns to the field from an injury, could be an x-factor for the offense this weekend in its matchup against a weak Princeton defense.

Looking to continue its Ivy League success, the men’s soccer team will trek down to Roberts Stadium to face a Princeton team that is searching for its first win of the conference schedule.

The Tigers (4-3-2, 0-1-0 Ivy) boast a formidable offensive attack, while their defense has been porous for much of the season. Princeton dropped its first conference game to Dartmouth (6-2-1, 1-0-0) last weekend in a 2-1 extra-time contest. Should the Tigers lose another game, they will essentially be eliminated from Ivy League title contention.

“Princeton is going to be coming out hard,” said Quinn English ’18. “We have to anticipate that. Two losses in the Ivy League isn’t a good way to start off, and they’re going to be desperate, so we have to come out and match their intensity.”

Princeton’s junior starting left back Andrew Doar confirmed English’s prediction, calling this game “a must-win” for the Tigers.

The Bears’ (3-3-3, 1-0-0) primary focus will be playing solid defense and limiting the number of chances the Tigers have to score, English added.

Bruno has posted five shutouts so far this season, four of which have come in its last four games. But the Tigers are likely one of the strongest offenses that goalkeeper Mitch Kupstas ’14.5 and the backline will face this season.

Princeton boasts the 11th best offense in the nation, averaging an astronomical 2.11 goals per game. For comparison, Bruno ranks 163rd, with a paltry .89 average.

The Tigers’ two main attacking threats play next to each other up top and make for a frightening offensive duo. Strikers Thomas Sanner and Cameron Porter have netted a combined 14 goals this season, five of which came in a recent 5-2 blowout of Rutgers University (3-6-1, 1-2-1 Big Ten).

But English believes that the team can hold its own against the dominant Tiger offense, calling Bruno’s recent defensive play “phenomenal.” But defending is a team-wide job — the midfielders and strikers must also make tackles and win possession for the Bears to have success, English said.

The Bears have become known for their physical play, much of which stems from Tariq Akeel ’16 and co-captain Daniel Taylor ’15, who patrol the midfield and win headers in the air.

“We know that Brown competes hard and tries to win the physical battles in all areas of the pitch,” Doar said.

The shutout streak has rejuvenated a Bruno defense that struggled early in the season. Brown has worked its goals against average down to just .93, good for 52nd in the country, after giving up nine goals in its first five games. Kupstas has led the way for the squad, constantly corralling through balls and making 38 saves — the second best total in the Ivy League.

On the other side of the field, co-captain Ben Maurey ’15.5 and the Bears’ offense will get a chance to take on a lackluster Princeton defense that has allowed over a goal and a half per game this season, placing them 160th in the country.

Last weekend, Maurey won the game against Columbia (3-5-0, 0-1-0) for Bruno when he cashed in on a corner kick from Jack Gorab ’16 in the 89th minute.

Maurey’s goal “was huge for us,” English said. “We had been pretty desperate for some goals these last couple games, so to finally get one so late in our first conference game was amazing. It gave us some momentum for the rest of the Ivy League schedule.”

Exactly which of Head Coach Patrick Laughlin’s strikers will join Maurey to spearhead the 4-4-2 formation is a mystery. Nate Pomeroy ’17, the usual starter, has sat out the past two games with an injury. Tyler Long ’17 and Will Cross ’16 are frequently subbed on for Maurey and Pomeroy, but English started at striker for the Bears’ last game.

The Bears have had a full week off since the Columbia game, giving Pomeroy and Gabe Welp ’18, who sustained a cut on the back of his head against the Lions, time to recover. The Tigers, on the other hand, may be fatigued after a midweek game against Rutgers.

Kickoff is slated for 4 p.m. Saturday, in what should be a weekend that differentiates the league favorites from the underdogs.

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