Sports

Undefeated men’s soccer outlast No. 18 Friars, Crusaders

Upset of 2014 national semi-finalist Providence College highlights impressive weekend

By
Sports Staff Writer
Sunday, September 13, 2015

Nico Lozada ’18 sends a pass across the field. Bruno’s undefeated start to the 2015 season contrasts with its 1-2 start to last year’s campaign.

The men’s soccer team came away with two victories in a hard-fought pair of games this weekend.

They kicked off the weekend Friday night with a nail-biting 2-1 overtime win over No. 18 Providence College (3-1-1), handing the Friars their first loss of the season. Then the team concluded the weekend with a gritty 1-0 triumph over Holy Cross (1-2-2) in a Sunday afternoon game in dreary conditions.

In the Providence derby, the Bears (3-0) knew they were going up against a tough opponent. The Friars are coming off a season in which they won the Big East title and made an appearance in the NCAA College Cup semifinal. But Bruno was up to the challenge and put on a fine show, emerging with a 2-1 victory after overtime play.

“It’s always a battle with Providence, and we like to come in and win the city title,” said co-captain Jack Gorab ’16.

Brown would net the first goal just two minutes after halftime. Nico Lozada ’18 dribbled down the left side and whipped in a cross that took a fortunate deflection off of a Providence defender and ended up in the back of the net for an own goal. The Friars responded with a goal within ten minutes of the Bears’ when Mac Steeves used his strength to hold off a couple of defenders before firing it into the back of the net to tie the game.

Both teams managed to produce a couple of chances in the remaining minutes of regulation. Keeper Erik Hanson ’17 parried away a shot toward the left side of the goal, while Gorab hit the post with a headed attempt. Neither of the sides could break the deadlock and the game entered sudden-death overtime.

The stalemate was broken in the 97th minute when Will Cross ’16 received a throw-in and passed it over to Jack Hagstrom ’19, who cannoned it in for his first collegiate goal and the game-winner.

“It was a real emotional win over Providence,” said co-captain Tim Whalen ’16.

On Sunday, the Bears went toe-to-toe with the Crusaders of Holy Cross. Head Coach Patrick Laughlin made two changes from the lineup that defeated the Friars, including handing goalie Teo Norhagen ’19 his first career start.

In the fifth minute, the Friars’ talented offense pressured Norhagen, but he rose to the challenge by making two consecutive saves of shots right in front of the goal. In the first 10 minutes of the game, the Bears’ defense aided Norhagen as frequently as possible by blocking many shots before they could even reach him.

Bruno’s first real chance came in the 20th minute after Tariq Akeel ’16 intercepted a pass by the Crusaders’ goalie. He played the ball to Jason Pesek ’17 inside the box, but his effort was turned away for a corner. On the subsequent corner, Whalen was stopped on the doorstep by the Holy Cross netminder and the game remained scoreless.

The breakthrough came in the 38th minute. Quinn English ’18 got on the end of a defensive clearance down the field and took his defender one-on-one before floating a dangerous ball into the box. The ball was headed down, only for a Holy Cross player to be whistled for hand ball, rewarding Brown with a penalty kick. Gorab stepped up and buried it into the left side of the net, making it 1-0 to Bruno going into the half.

From there, the Bears would not look back. In the second half, the teams exchanged attacking sequences, with both defenses thwarting crosses and blocking shots. The Crusaders had perhaps the best chance of the second half in the 73rd minute when Yuji Callahan rattled a shot off the crossbar from about 20 yards out. At the end of it all, while Holy Cross outshot Brown 15-10, only four were on target, while the Bears managed eight on frame.

“It wasn’t the prettiest win, but to get the job done is what matters. Everyone worked their butt off, that’s what it came down to,” Whalen said.

A team that boasts quite the mean defense, the Bears now have two shutouts in three games, having only conceded one goal so far this season.

“We pride ourselves on getting a shutout at home, and playing seventy-something minutes with the lead is what we battle for,” Gorab said.

“They did a good job of working hard for each other and covering for each other. I think that’s one of the hallmarks of our team, not being a team that gives up goals easily,” Laughlin added.

The Bears are set for another tough Friday-Sunday doubleheader next weekend, as they go on a road trip to take on Georgia State (4-3-0) and No. 9 Clemson (3-1-1)