M. soccer scores big weekend on rain-soaked field

Assistant Sports Editor
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The men’s soccer team (3-0-1) captured the outright Adidas-Brown Classic title after two wins against Southern Methodist University (2-2-0) and Adelphi University (1-1-2) this past weekend. Austin Mandel ’12 led the way on offense, scoring two goals, and Sean Rosa ’12 received the tournament’s Offensive MVP award with a goal and an assist.

The Bears waited patiently Friday night before their opening-round match in the Classic against SMU. And their composure paid off as they came out mentally prepared to take on one of the consistently top-ranked programs in the country. SMU opened up its season with a narrow 1-0 loss to the then-No.3, now No. 1-ranked University of Akron, so the Bears knew they would have to battle for all 90 minutes of play against the Mustangs.

After an hour-and-a-half rain delay, both teams finally approached the swampy field, ready to play the highly anticipated early-season match-up.

“There was some talk of canceling the game,” said Evan Coleman ’12, the tournament’s Defensive MVP. “We wanted to play because we knew we could play our best and beat them.”

The Bears put together their best overall performance in this young 2009 season, according to Coleman.

They had several excellent opportunities to score thanks to Nick Elenz-Martin ’10 and Rosa in the opening 30 minutes of play. And just three minutes later, Mandel was fouled hard inside the box and awarded a penalty kick, which he converted to put the team up, 1-0.

“In the beginning, we struggled,” Coleman said. “We had to set our own pace of the game since they were so efficient on offense.”

The Bears went into the half with that slim margin, and Head Coach Mike Noonan gave his team a “severe, yet encouraging” halftime speech that motivated players to come out and reach their potential in the second half.

“Coach told us it was going to be a battle to the end,” Coleman said. “We have some go-getters on the team, and the rest of us fed off of them and we all played better. We brought it to SMU in the second half.”

The Bears came out firing on all cylinders for a well-rounded effort from both the defense and the offense. The offense produced nine shots to SMU’s four in the second half.

The defensive intensity continued to soar as Coleman, Ryan McDuff ’13, Dylan Remick ’13 and co-captain David Walls ’11 kept the ball out of the net in order to preserve the one-goal lead off Mandel’s penalty kick. Paul Grandstrand ’11 also picked up three saves to help the defensive backs.

“They weren’t ready for the second half,” Coleman said. “It was a big turning point in the game as we kept on the pressure for all 90 minutes, revealing a dedicated, strong team that we knew we could be all along.”

The Bears then took on Adelphi, who tied Yale on Friday, 1-1. Though the Atlantic Soccer Conference’s Panthers have not been in the national spotlight for the last few decades as a top program, they stuck with the Bears for the first 30 minutes of play.

The Bears were tired after a hard fight and tough win against SMU in a game that ended at 11 p.m. Friday night. But by Sunday they were rejuvenated, and many Bears saw playing time to keep up the energy from Friday night’s win.

“It’s been a tough situation with the team playing so many games in a row, three games in five days,” Coleman said. “The guys who don’t play as much went out there for some quality minutes and represented the team well.”

Mandel had a great look on goal at 36:51 as his shot went high. He bounced right back and trickled a goal at 39:58 into the net past the outstretched arms of Adelphi goalie Kyle Blackmer. Mike Manella ’12 picked up the first point of his college career on the assist, and Mandel tallied his team-leading second goal of the season.

The Brown team had the game under control as it outshot the Panthers 8-2 in the second frame, and the defense continued to keep the ball on the opposite side of the field. Adelphi players kept the pressure on as they fouled the Bears 13 times in the second half for a total of 18 in the game.

Two minutes into the second half, Remick lined up for a corner kick that deflected off an Adelphi defender and popped right to Rosa, who finished it with his first goal of the season, an effort that helped him earn the Offensive MVP. Remick recorded his first collegiate point on the assist as the Bears went on to defeat Adelphi, 2-0.

Several Bears earned spots on the all-tournament team, including MVPs Coleman and Rosa, Elenz-Martin, Grandstrand, Mandel and Walls.

“We struggled to keep it together in the last half of the Adelphi game,” Coleman said. “We won a very good tournament outright and not many teams have been able to do that. We’re undefeated through the first three games so we’re definitely headed in the right direction.”

The Bears traveled to nearby Bryant (2-4-0) last night, beginning a four-game road trip and extending their winning streak to three in a row with a 1-0 victory over the Bulldogs. Thomas McNamara ’13 recorded the first goal of his collegiate career with less than two minutes to play in the first half. Grandstrand and the defense kept Bryant out of their territory, allowing only one shot on goal compared to Brown’s six.

The Bears take on another intrastate rival in URI (2-2-0) Saturday at 7 p.m.

“One of the stresses of this season is to put forth a full team effort,” Coleman said. “The team is committed to both sides of the ball, and we are communicating well and backing one another up — translating into key wins at the beginning of the season.”

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