Sports

Second half Crimson goal overwhelms men’s soccer’s defense

After conceding first goal and dropping match 1-0 to Harvard, Bruno occupies fourth place in Ivy League

By
Sports Staff Writer
Monday, October 19, 2015

Jason Pesek ’17 passes the ball to an open teammate. The Bears struggled to overcome the Crimson’s defense, though Bruno’s offense is the second most productive in the Ivy League with an average of 1.45 goals per game.

After an emphatic victory Tuesday against a Boston University team that had not lost in six games, the men’s soccer team looked to play streak-buster again in a key weekend match against Harvard.

Unfortunately for the Bears (6-5-1, 1-1-1 Ivy), they could not duplicate their midweek magic and fell by a tally of 1-0 to their Crimson hosts. This left Bruno in fourth place after three games in the Ivy League, while Harvard (5-4-2, 3-0) remained perched at the top, extending its winning streak to four.

Going into the game, the two teams had vastly different amounts of success against conference and nonconference foes.

On one hand, the Bears have had middling results thus far in both realms. Both offensively and defensively, they have put up similar statistics in terms of goal production and prevention. Overall, their offense ranks second in the conference, averaging 1.45 goals per game.

On the other hand, a look into Harvard’s games tells a completely different story. Heading into this matchup, the Crimson was a solid 2-0 in Ivy play, as opposed to a weak 2-4-2 against nonconference opponents, which included a loss to the same Terriers team that Bruno defeated Tuesday. The Crimson had put up a paltry 0.75 goals per game and allowed a whopping 1.38 per game. Meanwhile, through two Ivy games, the Crimson had scored five and allowed only one. Clearly, this team was built for Ancient Eight matchups.

“Harvard is a very direct team and they are good on set pieces,” said co-captain Jack Gorab ’16. “It’s difficult to defend them in that way.”

The first half was a slow grind for both squads, as neither could produce many quality chances. Within two minutes, Harvard had its first opportunity when Oliver White cleanly struck a half volley just outside the box that goalkeeper Erik Hanson ’17 parried over the crossbar.

Brown responded with a chance of its own in the 15th minute. Matthew Chow ’19 sent in a corner that bounced around the box before leading scorer Jack Hagstrom ’19 was finally able to head toward goal. While he was able to beat the keeper, another Crimson player stood firm and cleared it off the line. Over the last 25 minutes of the half, Brown could not muster another shot, leaving the game level at 0-0 at the break.

After the intermission, Will Cross ’16.5 had a golden opportunity in the 57th minute when the ball ended up at his feet behind the defense, but his shot was well saved by the Crimson goalie.

In the 68th minute, the Crimson broke the deadlock. Michael Innocenzi sent in a cross that was cleared away by the head of Gabe Welp ’18, but only as far as Crimson player Andrew Chang. He chested the ball, let it drop and beautifully volleyed a shot into the bottom left corner for what is certainly one of the best goals of the season.

The Bears pushed forward seeking the equalizer. They had a few opportunities, including a shot from Louis Zingas ’18, which required a parry by the opposing netminder, but nothing would come of them. At the final whistle, the scoreboard read 1-0 in favor of the home team.

“We had plenty of opportunities at the beginning of the game and in the second half to score some goals,” Gorab said. “We just weren’t able to finish our chances and capitalize.”

One of the ongoing storylines for Brown this season has been playing from behind, and this game was no different. For the seventh time in the past eight games, the Bears have conceded the first goal. In that same stretch, Bruno has also failed to score in the first half.

“We’ve been very good at coming from behind, which is a good thing but also means we’re giving up goals.” Gorab said. “We will continue to focus on starting off the game aggressively and trying to set the tone as best we can. Games are decided by such small margins that we just need to stay focused every minute of the game.”

The team hopes to get back on track next weekend when it visits Cornell (3-9-1, 1-2).

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