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Tale of two halves for m. soccer; first Ivy win

Monday, October 6, 2008

The men’s soccer team (6-2-1, 1-0-0 Ivy) opened up Ivy League play against Columbia (2-6-1, 0-1-0) this past weekend at Stevenson Field, winning a tight 2-1 match. The game was a tale of two halves as the Bears came out a little slow in the first half, according to Head Coach Mike Noonan.

“Columbia had a game plan to play solid defense,” said Rhett Bernstein ’09. “They were playing for a tie – that would have been a win for them.”

After the slow start in the first half, the Bears came out ready to attack the Lions game plan. They began to move the ball around more giving them some scoring opportunities. They also set the pace of the game in the second half with their more up-tempo offense.

In the 53rd minute of play, Evan Coleman ’12 put in a diving header from a crossed ball by Jon Okafor ’11 to put the Bears up 1-0. David Walls ’11 also assisted on the goal. In the 65th minute, the Lions came back and tied the game up with a goal by Ronnie Shaban.

But Brown didn’t panic and finished out the game on a strong note. For the fourth game in a row, Bernstein scored the game-winning goal in the 73rd minute off a corner kick by Darren Howerton ’09. The kick from Howerton came from the left side to the low right corner where Bernstein was waiting. The Bears finished out the game on top, 2-1.

“I’m happy that the team displayed a very good attitude in the second half, especially after Columbia tied the game,” Noonan said. “They stayed resolute and didn’t panic.”

The team is off to a good start in conference play this year and hopes to play their conference games as well as they did last season. The team finished 7-0 in conference last year and pulled away with the league title. One tie could cost the team the conference championship.

“Teams are going to come to play against us,” Walls said. “They’re going to give it everything they have with breakaway goals and solid defense. We need to be patient and take our time; chances will come.”

Bernstein scored his fourth consecutive goal of the season – all game-winners – currently leading the team. Howerton leads the Ivy League in assists with five, four of them to Bernstein. Howerton’s assist moved him to second all-time in Brown’s career assist leaders with 25 total.

Jarrett Leech’s ’09 record in goals now stands at 5-0-1 for the season with three saves in the game. He leads the league in save percentage (.952) and goals against average (0.16).

The Bears’ offense has come to life in the past five games, scoring seven goals. The defense has supported the offense, allowing only one goal in that span, to Columbia.

“People are chipping in to help out. We’re trying to find our rhythm a little bit,” said captain Dylan Sheehan ’09. “Most of our goals come off of set pieces. We’re beginning to combine the forwards and attacking the field.”

With the offense coming around with a strong and consistent defense, the Bears are slowly coming together for the toughest part of their season, according to Noonan.

Brown hosts Bryant on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. before traveling to Princeton next Saturday for the team’s second Ivy League matchup.

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