Sports

Bears dictate pace in season-opening win

Goal from Pomeroy ’17 in 63rd minute, strong defense lift Bruno over Ocean State rival

By
Staff Writer
Friday, September 9, 2016

James Myall ’18 completes a pass during Bruno’s game against Bryant on Friday. The team expects strong play from two starting first years, Jackson Goebel ’20 and Rodrigo D’Andrea ’20.

The men’s soccer team kicked off its campaign Friday night with a dominant 1-0 victory over Bryant at Stevenson-Pincince Field. Though the margin of victory was small, it certainly could have been greater, as the Bears (1-0) were in control of the match from the start of the game. The lone goal, scored by newly elected co-captain Nate Pomeroy ’17 in the 63rd minute, was enough to clinch the match.

“We put together good attacking play,” said co-captain James Myall ’18. “It looks really promising for the season.”

With the new season comes a new crop of first-years eager to make their mark. Jackson Goebel ’20 and Rodrigo D’Andrea ’20 both made their competitive collegiate debuts in the starting lineup for the Bears, while Joseph Lee ’20 started the second half on the pitch.

Justin O’Brien ’19 also made his first career start for Brown, and Tyler Long ’17 returned to the field after missing the entirety of last season because of an injury.

“A lot of guys were getting their first significant minutes, and I thought we had a really focused performance,” said Head Coach Patrick Laughlin.

Bruno’s first five minutes set the tone for the rest of the game. The Bears remained in control of each possession, and the team’s defense pressed the Bulldogs (0-2), causing missed passes and lost balls.

In spite of ample time with the ball, the team struggled to convert. One of the best opportunities for the Bears in the first half  came from Quinn English ’18 off a cross. Will Cross ’16.5 redirected the ball on frame, but the Bulldog keeper saved it.

By halftime, the Bears’ pacey offense had not yet found the back of the net. Most of the half was spent in the Bulldogs’ side of the field, with little offense strung together by the visitors. The Bears had amassed four corners and five shots on goal compared to Bryant’s one of each.

It was more of the same in the beginning of the second half, as the play occurred mostly in Bryant’s defensive half. The Bulldogs eventually managed to create two almost-chances in the space of three minutes, but both sailed harmlessly over Brown’s goal. Subsequently, two consecutive crosses from English flashed across the face of goal but found no one.

Brown finally made its breakthrough thanks to Pomeroy. A long kick up field from keeper Erik Hanson ’17 was flicked by Pomeroy to Nico Lozada ’18 out wide on the right. Pomeroy made a run into the box where Lozada’s pass found him. He calmly slotted his shot into the bottom right corner, giving the Bears the lead.

But Brown was not completely in the clear, as the Bulldogs were awarded a timely free kick just on the edge of the Brown box in the 90th minute. With time ticking down, Bryant had its shot blocked by the wall, sealing the Bears’ first triumph of the new season.

Bruno continued its solid defensive play from last season by limiting the visiting Bulldogs to just five shots, only one of which was on target. Thanks to an organized backline, Bryant was kept at bay for a majority of the game.

“We did a good job of playing the second ball and covering our men,” Myall said.

Laughlin attributed this defensive success to the team’s communication.

“We’re really working on that, and we hope to improve as we move forward,” he said.

Offensively, Bruno terrorized its opponent down the flanks. The team ended the fixture with nine shots on target and numerous crosses into the box. Some of the most dangerous chances were created from exposing the Bulldogs’ right and left backs. Brown’s speedy wingers gave them both troubles throughout the game.

“We looked at the scouting of Bryant and saw that their guys on the flank were slower than what we had,” Pomeroy said.  “We figured we should take advantage of that as much as we could.”

Looking ahead to this weekend’s home games, the Bears play Georgia State on Friday and Southern Methodist University on Sunday as part of the Capitol City Classic. The former defeated the Bears last season in a high-scoring 3-2 match in which all goals were scored in the first half. In order to continue its winning ways, the team will have to step up its finishing rate while also maintaining its defensive rigidity.

“Georgia State beat us last year down there, so they will be a tough team. SMU is real strong and a big program,” Laughlin said. “It’s a mental and physical challenge, but we’re looking forward to playing at home and playing two games in three days.”

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