Sports

Men’s soccer poised to rebound from down year with defense, depth

Bruno looks to jump-start offensive production with healthy Pomeroy ’17, first-year playmakers

By
Sports Staff Writer
Friday, September 11, 2015

Nate Pomeroy ’17 evades his defenders and heads the ball to a teammate. The Bears will look to Pomeroy and several other players to lead Bruno’s offense with the graduation of the last season’s leading scorer.

Last season did not go exactly as planned for the Brown men’s soccer team. After suffering a loss in the final game of the season, Bruno was left in a tie for fifth place in the Ivy League and a losing record, 5-6-6, for the first time since 2002. But with the return to health of some key players and a new crop of first-years, the team is rejuvenated and ready to bounce back.

Perhaps the most important aspect that needs to be addressed in the upcoming season is goal scoring. The Bears (1-0) only managed to net 14 goals last season — the second fewest in the Ivy League and their lowest total in the last decade.

“One of the key things (this year) is getting goals,” said Head Coach Patrick Laughlin. “Last year, we were unable to get them when we needed them in critical moments, and we just did not score enough.”

With the departure of the team’s leading goal scorer Ben Maurey ’15.5, key figures like co-captain Jack Gorab ’16, box-to-box midfielder Tariq Akeel ’16 and the formerly injured Nate Pomeroy ’17 will need to step up in order for the team to be successful offensively. Akeel and Gorab played part of the second half of last season injured, so they will look to show what they are capable of. While Pomeroy was hurt for much of last year, he has been tapped by Coach Laughlin as a key cog in the team’s goal scoring machine.

“We are looking to attack and score a lot,” Gorab said.

On the other side of the pitch, the program will look to maintain its stalwart defense that allowed the third-fewest goals in the Ivy League. Anchored by co-captain Tim Whalen ’16, the defense hopes to continue its stingy play in order to grind out results for the team.

“We always pride ourselves on our defense, and that certainly won’t change this year either,” Gorab said.

Already, in the team’s season-opening 2-0 victory against Quinnipiac (0-2-1), the Bears demonstrated this drive to achieve their goals. Akeel had one goal and one assist, which helped him earn Ivy League Co-Player of the Week honors.

Beyond basic offensive and defensive strengths and weaknesses, the Bears also have an unprecedented amount of depth to look forward to this season, giving them options around the pitch.

“This is probably the most competitive group in four or five years. We probably have someone that could step in at six different starting positions,” Laughlin said.

This offers the opportunity to be flexible with the starting lineups and subsequent in-game substitutions. It will also require time to discover which lineups are most effective for different styles of play, something that can be addressed as the season progresses. This could prove to be particularly useful if the team must manage with recurring injuries as it did last season.

Amongst those many options is a new crop of first-years  players. If last year’s freshman group indicated anything, it is that there are minutes to be had. In the win over Quinnipiac, three first-years cracked the starting lineup: Matthew Chow ’19, Jack Hagstrom ’19 and Carl Johan Mix ’19. As with any player, they are looking to have a significant impact on the team.

Laughlin stressed the importance of being “present” every day. “This year, the focus is on enjoying the moment, whether it is an off day, training day or game day,” he said.

“We want to focus on one game at a time and continue to improve our play everyday,” Whalen said.

The team continues play this weekend, first with an away game at crosstown rival No. 18 Providence (3-0-1) Friday, followed by its home opener Sunday against Holy Cross (0-1-2) on Stevenson Field.

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