Sports

Kupstas ’14.5 shuts out lowly Yale soccer team

Maurey ’15.5 scores lone goal as Bears slide past Ivy cellar-dwellers, move into tie for fourth place

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, November 10, 2014

Ben Maurey ’15.5 plays keep-away with a Yale defender. The captain is Bruno’s leading scorer, but an anemic offense has limited the team’s success.

A chip shot by co-captain Ben Maurey ’15.5 lifted the men’s soccer team to a 1-0 win over Yale on Bruno’s Senior Day this weekend.

Maurey found himself with the ball at his feet and Yale goalkeeper Blake Brown well off his line in the 74th minute. Jack Gorab ’16 had played a ball intended for Will Cross ’16, who mis-hit his clearance straight to Maurey. The striker first-timed a shot just high enough that the keeper could not push the ball over the net.

One goal was all the Bears (5-5-6, 2-2-2 Ivy) needed, as goalkeeper Mitch Kupstas ’14.5 and the Bears’ backline continued their excellent play en route to the team’s sixth shutout of the season.

“It was really good for (Maurey) to get a goal then,” said Head Coach Patrick Laughlin. “I think all of the seniors did a great job tonight. And getting a shutout at home in the Ivy League is always a wonderful feeling.”

After the team’s seniors were honored at midfield with their parents, the starting lineups were announced. Gabe Welp ’18, the only player on the team who had started every game this season, was not able to play after injuring his shoulder last weekend against Penn (6-8-2, 2-2-2).

Tim Whalen ’16, usually a left back, moved into the center with Jameson Lochhead ’16, while Jason Pesek ’17 made his second start of the season on the left side.

Welp “took a bad injury at Penn,” Laughlin said. “But (Whalen) can play center back or left back, either one. And (Pesek) has played well. We’re happy with him as a left back.”

The Bears got off to a rocky start against a team they should have handled with ease — the Elis (1-12-3, 0-5-1 Ivy) have scored just seven goals and won one game all season. Bruno held a slim 5-4 margin in shots at the end of the first half.

“Yale is a good team,” Laughlin said. “Their record is deceiving, so you can play down to what you think they’re going to be like, and I think we did that in the first half. “

Yale clearly did its homework before this matchup with the Bears. For much of the opening half, the Bulldogs forced the ball through the left side, trying to take advantage of Pesek, rather than take on four-year starter and lockdown defender Alex Markes ’15 on the right side.

But Pesek held his ground and stymied Yale’s forays down the left side. Laughlin praised his young left back after the game, complimenting Pesek’s abilities to defend and pass the ball up the field.

The Bulldogs’ best opportunity of the afternoon — and Bruno’s most improbable save of the season — ­came just one minute into the second half. Yale defender Philip Piper whipped a throw into the box that was flicked to the feet of Yale midfielder Saul Downie. Downie snapped a shot that appeared to be goal-bound, but Kupstas denied the shot with a spectacular diving save. Then the block rebounded directly to Bulldog Conner Lachenbruch, who headed the ball toward the empty net. Spectacularly, Whalen intercepted the shot at the goal line and cleared it to put an end to Yale’s threatening chance.

After the early scare, Bruno’s backline battened down the hatches and defended well for the rest of the game. Maurey’s late goal claimed the win for the Bears in the team’s final home game of the season.

“We did better in the second half,” Laughlin said. “The substitutes again made a difference. Some of those young guys are doing quite well when they get brought on.”

The victory improved Bruno’s winning percentage to .500, the highest it has been since the team took down Columbia (7-7-1, 2-3-1) over a month ago. The three points also lifted the Bears into a tie with Penn for fourth place in the conference, just a week after it appeared Bruno would finish seventh.

The team will wrap up its season next weekend on the road at Dartmouth (10-4-2, 4-1-1). The Big Green sits atop the Ancient Eight in a tie with Princeton (10-3-3, 4-1-1). Should the Bears win, they would not only spoil Dartmouth’s season, but could also find themselves as high as third in the standings — an outcome that seemed improbable just a week ago.

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