Sports

Lineup shake-up energizes men’s soccer’s offense

After 2-1 loss at Florida Gulf Coast, Bears’ three- game losing streak ends with victory over UMass

By
Sports Staff Writer
Monday, September 28, 2015

It was a tale of comebacks for the men’s soccer team, as it fought to a weekend split against Florida Gulf Coast and UMass. Though the Bears’ losing streak extended to three after the loss to the Eagles (2-2-1), it was snapped with a victory over the Minutemen (1-9).

The Bears (4-3) fell behind initially in both games but only managed a comeback in one of them — their first comeback win of the campaign.

“It’s important to get off that slide and get a positive result,” said Head Coach Patrick Laughlin.

Florida Gulf Coast 2, Brown 1

Despite a late equalizer by Tariq Akeel ’16, Bruno fell to Florida Gulf Coast by a line of 2-1 in an end-to-end thriller Friday night.

A physical first half yielded no goals but plenty of entertainment. FGCU arguably had the better chances in the first stanza, but the Bears’ defense stood firm. Blocked shot after blocked shot kept the Eagles at bay. Keeper Erik Hanson ’17 was called upon in the 22nd minute, when he parried a shot that was seeking the top left corner of the net.

In the 28th minute, he once again had to make another fine save, this time diving to his bottom right. The resultant rebound was cleared away.

Bruno had its fair share of chances as well. It thrived on dangerous crosses being put into the box by attackers Matthew Chow ’19 and Will Cross ’16.5, but none of these opportunities were converted. At the break, FGCU held an advantage in shots by a 7-5 margin.

After the intermission, the Eagles drew blood within five minutes. Rodrigo Savaria floated a ball into the box to Miguel Jaime, who beat Hanson to the ball and redirected it past him for the opening tally.

Though the Bears had yet to come back from a deficit all season, this did not prevent them from applying pressure on the FGCU net. Two headed opportunities, including one by leading goalscorer Jack Hagstrom ’19, were the best of the half, and one them was even cleared off the line.

The lifeline for the Bears appeared in the 82nd minute. Akeel was fouled in the box and proceeded to step up and bury the penalty kick to tie the game.

Momentum was in favor of Bruno until Dylan Sacramento brilliantly struck a half volley at the edge of the box into the top right corner past Hanson’s outstretched fingers to put Eagles back ahead.

The Bears relentlessly poured attackers forward until the final whistle, looking for the equalizer. On the last kick of the game with six seconds left, Jack Gorab ’16 launched a free kick into the box that deflected off some FGCU players and ended up in the back of the net. But the ref’s whistle had blown for a foul on the keeper, sealing the victory for the Eagles.

The opportunities were there for Bruno. It had eight corners in the game, three more than it could manage in both of its games last weekend combined, but still could not find that elusive tying goal.

Brown 2, UMass 1

On a warmer match day than last, Laughlin opted for a slightly different lineup than the one that fell to FGCU. Notable changes included starting Cross at the striker position as well as swapping Chow and Gorab’s positions, with the former moving to a central attacking midfield role and the latter out to the left wing.

The Minutemen struck first in the 20th minute after an Akeel turnover in the midfield gave them the ball. Matthew Mooney received the ball at the edge of the box, took one step over and fired a shot into the bottom right corner past Hanson for his first of the season.

Beside the goal, the first half lacked many clear-cut chances for either team. Bruno’s best opportunity came in the 23rd minute. Chow dribbled down the left side, danced his way into the box, cut in and rifled a shot near post. The UMass goalie was positioned ideally to not only stop the shot but also corral it from going out of play for a corner. Misplaced passes, over-hit balls and other minor mistakes doomed the Bears to a scoreless first half for the third straight game.

They came out with a much more aggressive demeanor in the second frame. The breakthrough came in the 66th minute, when Nate Pomeroy ’17 kept the ball in play down the left flank. It deflected to Akeel at the edge of the box, who faked a shot and slid it over to Gorab. He played it back to Pomeroy at the top right edge of box, and the forward looped one over the keeper into the far corner for the equalizer.

From there, it was a furious back-and-forth until Bruno broke the deadlock in the 80th minute. Gorab swung in a corner that was headed back across the face of goal by Hagstrom, and co-captain Tim Whalen ’16 headed it himself into the net for his first of season and the game-winner.

“The team performed very well today and fought through a lot of difficulties,” Laughlin said.

This game marked the end of the Bears’ three-game losing streak. After beginning the season 3-0, the Bears needed to get back on track, Whalen said. “It’s a really big win going into the Ivy League and to get out of this little slump we’ve been in. … To come back and keep fighting was very important.”

Bruno hopes to maintain its winning ways when it begins Ivy League play next Saturday in New York against Columbia (4-1-1).

“The intensity level is always higher in the first Ivy game,” Laughlin said. “We’re looking forward to mixing it up against them in New York.”

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