Sports

Characteristic second-half goals lifts men’s soccer over Penn

Goals from Gorab ’16, Akeel ’16 help to elevate Bruno to second place in Ivy League standings

By
Staff Writer
Monday, November 2, 2015

An equalizer from co-captain Jack Gorab ’16 and a late penalty kick conversion by Tariq Akeel ’16 lifted the men’s soccer team to a 2-1 comeback victory against Penn Saturday night under the lights of Stevenson/Pincince Field. This marked the team’s fourth win in its past five games.

With the win and a loss by Harvard, the Bears (9-5-1, 3-1-1 Ivy) claimed sole possession of second place in the Ivy League with two games remaining. The victory also ensured that the team would have a winning record for the first time in three seasons.

The game started out slowly, with neither team able to get into a consistent rhythm. The Quakers (2-9-2, 1-3-1) controlled more possession in the early stages, while the Bears had better chances and applied more pressure on their opponent. Midway through the half, Akeel and Nate Pomeroy ’17 headed two separate chances off Gorab crosses just past the post. Penn responded with a volley that Teo Norhagen ’19 comfortably saved in his third consecutive start of the season.

The defining moment of the half came in the 29th minute, when Gabe Welp ’18 brought an opposing player down in the box. The whistle blew, and the referee awarded a penalty kick to Penn. Alec Neumann, the Quakers’ leading goal scorer last season, stepped up to the spot. Norhagen saved Neumann’s initial kick, but the forward jumped on the rebound and tapped it into the net to give his team the lead.

For much of the year, Penn has found it difficult to score, averaging an astoundingly low 0.67 goals per game by scoring eight times in 12 games. But after the Quakers scored, they started to control the flow of the game more easily. Bruno was visibly flustered, as the goal had come against the run of play, and was unable to maintain possession effectively. The Bears went into the half down 1-0.

“In the first 25 minutes or so before they scored, we were absolutely on top of them,” said co-captain Tim Whalen ’16. “We were getting chances. After they scored, we lost our mojo a bit.”

Head Coach Pat Laughlin’s halftime words certainly resonated with the team, as Bruno came out in the second half with a palpable sense of confidence and urgency. The Bears looked to up the tempo and press the Quakers more frequently in their half. The tables turned from the end of the first half, as Bruno created more chances while Penn struggled to sustain anything.

Laughlin “just told us to keep our heads on and focus on how we played for the first 25 minutes,” Whalen said.

Jack Hagstrom ’19 headed a 57th minute corner from Matthew Chow ’19 just wide. A series of chances initiated by Quinn English’s ’18 signature long throw-in required the Quakers’ netminder to punch the ball out of the danger zone.

Penn did have one delicious opportunity to put the game out of reach in the 67th minute. A counterattack saw Jerel Blades streak down the left side and play a ball into the box to a wide-open Teddie Levenfiche. Norhagen was caught in no man’s land between coming out to try to stop the cross and staying in net. Levenfiche had what should have been a routine shot on frame, but he pushed his effort wide right and the game remained at 1-0, to the relief of the Bears.

The nature of the match for the Bears shifted in the 78th minute. Pomeroy crossed from the right, and the ball deflected to Gorab at the edge of the box. He drilled a shot into the bottom left corner to tie the game up, 1-1.

The pressure did not stop there, as Bruno pushed forward to find the winner. In the 86th minute, that chance came. Will Cross ’16.5 played a lobbed through ball to Carl Johan Mix ’19 in the box. Mix chested it down and then was dragged down in the box. The officials called another penalty kick — this time in favor of the Bears. Akeel stepped up to the spot and buried it in the right corner, sealing the comeback victory.

For much of the season, it has been a tale of two halves for Bruno. Going into this game, the Bears had only scored four goals in first halves, compared to the 16 they had netted in second halves. Against Penn, the Bears started out well, but they were not rewarded with a goal. Then, in typical fashion, the team netted two in the second half to secure the victory.

The team hopes to continue its winning streak and Ivy success next weekend against cellar-dweller Yale.

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