Sports

Men’s soccer to host Bulldogs in final home contest of season

Lackluster Yale presents Bears opportunity to pick up first Senior Day victory since 2010

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, November 7, 2014

Ben Maurey ’15.5 corrals a bouncing ball. Had he not earned an extra year of eligibility, the striker would be playing his final home game against Yale.

In its final home game of the season, the men’s soccer team will be playing for nothing but the name on its jerseys when it hosts Yale this weekend. After last weekend’s draw with Penn, the Bears have been mathematically eliminated from winning the Ivy League championship outright, but the team still hopes to finish the season with a flourish.

“The guys are still going really hard in practice,” said Alex Markes ’15. “Everybody realizes we have two more opportunities to prove to yourself, the coaches and the fans that this is a good team.”

Saturday will mark the last time that starters Markes, co-captain Daniel Taylor ’15, Mitch Kupstas ’14.5 and reserve Tommy Arns ’15 set foot on the Stevenson Field artificial turf in their collegiate careers.

“Their presence on and off the field is exactly what a Brown men’s soccer player strives for,” said Tariq Akeel ’16 of the players in the senior class. “Their on-field accomplishments are great, but it’s their leadership, dedication and friendship that really makes them a class we are all going to miss.”

The Bulldogs (1-11-3, 0-4-1 Ivy) will line up on the other side of the ball, hoping to spoil the Bears’ (4-5-6, 1-2-2) Senior Day and earn their first conference victory of the season. The Elis have just one win this season, which came when a 109th-minute goal lifted Yale over Temple University (2-13-2, 1-6-1 AAC) nearly a month ago.

To say Yale struggles to generate offense would be an understatement: The team has just seven goals in 14 games — by far the lowest total in the conference — and has been shut out eight times. The Elis also rank last in the Ivy League in assists, points and shooting percentage. With this record, Markes and the Bears’ backline should be able to stave off anything the Bulldogs can muster offensively, as Bruno has the second-best goals-against average in the conference at just under a goal per game. This means the opportunities for Yale will likely come few and far between.

“The penalty kick against Penn was pretty unfortunate,” Markes said, referring to last weekend’s 1-1 draw. “But overall, we’ve been playing solid defense. We just need to cut out those few moments of lapse in the back.”

Defensively, the Bulldogs have not fared much better. This season, the squad has allowed 20 goals, the third-highest total in the Ancient Eight, and has had only two shutouts for goalkeepers Blake Brown and Ryan Simpson. The weak defensive numbers coupled with their seven goals scored rank the Elis dead last in goal differential.

The Yale defense has slightly redeemed itself by tending not to give up multiple goals. Only four times have opposing offenses netted more than one tally against the Bulldogs. Consequently, the majority of Yale’s games this season have ended in 1-0 losses or 1-1 draws.

Though Bruno’s offense has been sluggish at times, when the team is clicking, the Bears can prove a threat. Against Penn (6-7-2, 2-1-2), the Bears created a host of chances to score on the counterattack, and if not for Quaker keeper Max Polkinhorne, Bruno would have won the game by a large margin.

“In the Penn game, we were pretty creative on the attack,” Markes said. “So if we continue to be that dynamic, I think we can score some big goals this weekend.”

Head Coach Patrick Laughlin gave Will Cross ’16, Jason Pesek ’17 and Nico Lozada ’18 extended playing time against the Quakers, a tactic that paid dividends, Markes said. “We’ve had a lot of success switching up our lineup and playing some of the younger guys. I’d love to see Coach (Laughlin) give them a shot again.”

While the younger players will be important for Saturday’s game, the seniors will be the focus of the weekend. Markes has been a starter for his entire career as a Bear and seen three senior classes before him fail to end their time at Stevenson Field on a high note.

On Senior Day three years ago, the Bears battled the Big Green to a scoreless double-overtime draw. Two years ago, in the last regular-season game Dylan Remick ’12 played before being drafted by the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer, Bruno tied the Bulldogs 1-1. And last year, the Bears suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Dartmouth.

“Being able to get a win on a very emotional night would mean a lot to me,” Markes said. “The guys all want to end the season well, and breaking the Senior Day curse would be amazing.”

The Bears will step onto Stevenson Field for the last time this season Saturday at 7 p.m.

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