Sports

Men’s soccer ties Penn, falls to seventh in Ivy League standings

After falling behind early on penalty kick, Bears claw back with timely saves and header to even score

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, November 3, 2014

The men’s soccer team surrendered an early goal off a penalty kick to the Quakers Saturday, but the Bears managed to equalize and salvage a point from their trip to Philadelphia, drawing with the Quakers 1-1. For the second game in a row, Will Cross ’16 knocked in a header from a set piece to give Bruno (4-5-6, 1-2-2 Ivy) its lone goal.

“It was a disappointing result,” said Penn Head Coach Rudy Fuller. “I thought we did more than enough to win the game.”

The Quakers (6-7-2, 2-1-2) struck first in the 19th minute. Penn midfielder Forrest Clancy took a shot that hit off the near post and bounced into the middle of the box. His teammate Alec Neumann appeared to have an open shot on net with goalkeeper Mitch Kupstas ’14.5 on the ground, but Gabe Welp ’18 grabbed a handful of Neumann’s jersey and pulled the striker down from behind. The referee instantaneously blew his whistle, awarding Penn the spot kick.

Quaker striker and captain Duke Lacroix stepped up and sent Kupstas diving the wrong way to give Penn a 1-0 lead.

“It’s a tough call,” said Brown Head Coach Patrick Laughlin. “Whenever you go down on a penalty call, especially in an away game, it’s always tough.”

The Bears looked flustered for most of the half — they struggled to keep possession of the ball and surrendered a host of chances to Penn’s dynamic offense.

But Kupstas kept Bruno in the game with three saves in the first half, and with just three minutes remaining in the opening period, the team found an equalizer. Jack Gorab ’16 swung a corner in from the left side, and Cross met it high in the air. The ball took a deflection off a Penn defender, catching Quaker keeper Max Polkinhorne completely off guard as it sailed into the back of the net.

“We haven’t been good defending in our own area,” Fuller said. “We’ve allowed goals to happen by not being first to the ball. Regardless of how well you play, how many chances you create, you have to be sound and solid defensively in front of your own goal.”

The goal was Cross’ third of the year and his second in as many games. The junior striker has contributed when the Bears have needed it most this season — he has two game-winning strikes and after this weekend, a game-tying tally to his name.

“This year has been a good one for (Cross),” Laughlin said. “He’s been able to be more assertive. He’s had some opportunities, and he’s seized them. He has looked dangerous this season, and I’ve been really pleased with his performances.”

Bruno carried the momentum from Cross’ goal into the second half, when the team played like a completely different group of players. The tale of two halves has been a theme for the Bears in many games this year, as the team often starts slow but warms up later in the contest.

“If I knew how to prevent it, I’d prevent it, of course,” Laughlin said of the team’s slow starts. “But the guys have done a good job competing — if part of the game isn’t up to the standard that the players expect of themselves, they haven’t allowed that to be the case for the whole game.”

Penn’s backline kept its shape during the first half, but in the second half, Bruno began to expose the flaws that have allowed opponents to score a conference-high 27 goals on the Quakers.

The Bears started playing through balls on the ground and over the top of the Penn defense, which created a number of good opportunities. But Polkinhorne stood tall in goal, snuffing out the Bears’ chances as he made six saves in the second half.

With just three minutes remaining in regulation, co-captain Ben Maurey ’15.5 played a pass over the top that gave Cross a one-on-one opportunity with Polkinhorne. Penn’s courageous keeper charged at Cross, who eluded the goalie and appeared to have an empty net. But a Quaker defender tracked back and cleared Cross’ shot off the goal line to send the game to extra time.

Neither side could find an edge in the two 10-minute overtime periods. Nico Lozada ’18 thought he had scored the game-winning goal in the 106th minute, when he slid a shot past Polkinhorne and into the back of the net. But the play was whistled dead seconds earlier, as the first-year midfielder was offsides.

The referee ended the match with the score level at 1-1. Polkinhorne made an additional two saves in the extra time periods, giving him a total of nine in the game. Despite owning the highest goals against average in the Ancient Eight, he leads all Ivy keepers in total saves by a large margin.

The draw, along with Columbia’s (6-6-1, 2-2-1) win over Yale (1-11-3, 0-4-1), drops the Bears into sole possession of seventh place in the Ivy standings. The team’s title aspirations have slipped away after a series of closely contested conference matches have not broken the Bears’ way.

Bruno will have a chance to play spoiler Nov. 15, when the team travels to New Hampshire to take on league-leading Dartmouth (9-4-2, 3-1-1). But before the meeting with the Big Green, the Bears will square off with the Bulldogs in their final home game of the season Saturday at 4 p.m.

Topics: