Sports

Men’s soccer weathers early deficit, contested officiating to earn draw

Bruno ends Harvard’s eight-game winning streak, remains in hunt for Ivy League title

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, October 20, 2014

Tariq Akeel ’16 eyes a ball in the air. The midfielder contributed to Bruno’s 1-1 draw Saturday with several tackles and key passes all over the field.

The men’s soccer team landed squarely in the middle of the Ivy League standings after Saturday’s match with Harvard ended in a 1-1 draw.

The Crimson scored early on a masterfully executed counterattack, but co-captain Ben Maurey ’15.5 evened the score just minutes into the second half off a corner kick.

The Bears (3-4-5, 1-1-1 Ivy) came out flat to start the game, allowing Harvard (8-3-1, 2-0-1) to control the ball for the majority of the first half. The Crimson was rewarded for its patient play in the 16th minute.

Tim Schmoll laid the ball off to Kyle Henderson, who was making a run up the left side. Henderson dribbled forward and played an early cross back to Schmoll. The towering 6-foot-6 central midfielder trapped the ball with his left foot and smashed a volley with a ton of pace into the back of the net, giving the Crimson a 1-0 lead.

Harvard continued to pour on the pressure, taking four shots in the half, compared to just one for the Bears. But goalkeeper Mitch Kupstas ’14.5 and the Bruno backline withstood the offensive onslaught and made it to the end of the half just a goal down.

Head Coach Patrick Laughlin and his staff snapped the Bears out of their sluggishness at halftime. A completely different team appeared to take the field at the start of the second half.

“The guys responded well to the halftime talk,” Laughlin said. “We just wanted them to play with more confidence and be a little more assertive and aggressive and really go after Harvard, don’t let them get into a rhythm.”

Just four minutes into the second stanza, Bruno was awarded a corner kick. Jack Gorab ’16, the Bears’ free-kick specialist, played a dangerous ball into the box. The ball flew past a number of heads, as well as the hands of Harvard keeper Evan Mendez. At the back post, Crimson defender Mark Ashby was grabbing both of Maurey’s arms in an attempt to keep Bruno’s forward from making a play on the cross. But the senior striker had the wherewithal to stick out his right foot, and the ball fortuitously bounced off his heel and into the goal to level the score.

The play gave Maurey his third goal and Gorab his fourth assist this season, making each of them the team’s overall leaders in the respective categories.

Just seconds after the Bears equalized, Tim Whalen ’16 launched a throw-in that was flicked on by Maurey. Quinn English ’18 appeared to have a clear path to a goal when the assistant referee raised his flag to indicate an offside call. The crowd and play-by-play announcers erupted with dissent, as some believed a Harvard defender clearly kept English onside.

The referees continued to leave their mark on the game. In the 80th minute, English found a pocket of space behind the Crimson defense and sprinted toward what should have been a one-on-one with Mendez. Harvard defender Michael Klain chased English into the box and took out both of the Brown midfielder’s legs from behind. But the head referee waved at English to get up, signaling he would not award a penalty.

Just a minute later, James Myall ’18 was hacked down in the box by Schmoll, but the official granted the Bears a free kick from just outside the 18, instead of the penalty kick Bruno arguably deserved.

Officiating aside, neither team could break the deadlock, and the game went to extra time. Louis Zingas ’18 had the only shot in the first overtime period, but Mendez kept the Crimson alive with a one-on-one stuff of Bruno’s first-year midfielder.

In the second period of overtime, the referee again came in contradiction with coaches and fans. English whipped a long throw into the box. Mendez came off his line and glanced the ball with his fists, causing it to fall to Maurey, who flicked a header straight onto the arm of defender Mark Ashby in the box. But the referee held his whistle, despite pleas from Brown coaches, players and fans.

The wild game finally ended as a 1-1 tie, and both teams earned a point toward the conference standings. The Bears were called for 21 fouls in the game, the most in a single game this season.

Myall made plays for the Bears all game, whether completing a big tackle on the defensive end or earning free kicks on the offensive side. English was Bruno’s only consistent threat on offense, and he created a number of chances with his long throw-ins.

Myall “is excellent,” Laughlin said. “If he’s not a candidate for Ivy League Rookie of the Year, then I don’t know who should be. … It’s not glamorous, but he does a ton of work. And (English) is dangerous. Teams are having a hard time containing his pace.”

With the draw, the Bears have amassed four points in three games, good for a three-way tie with Princeton (6-3-3, 1-1-1) and Columbia (4-5-1, 1-1-1), who tied each other this weekend.

Up next, Bruno will host a Cornell squad (8-4-1, 1-2-0) that has not started conference play the way most would have predicted. The Big Red holds the second-strongest overall record in the Ivy League, but dropped back-to-back conference games to Harvard and Penn (6-6-0, 2-1-0) and currently sits in second-to-last place.

But Laughlin indicated that he is not taking the matchup with Cornell lightly. “We have to focus on the next game,” he said. “We didn’t want to get a draw today, we wanted a win, but we know that Cornell is going to be another tough game. Hopefully we can come to play, give them everything we can, and at the end of it, it’s a victory for us.”

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