The Tuesday night men's soccer matchup against St. John's University had the feeling of a national championship game. With many near misses, thrilling fast breaks and seemingly impossible saves by goalies, the No. 13 Bears (7-0-2, 1-0-0 Ivy) defeated the No. 22 Red Storm (6-4-0), 1-0.
Bruno came out firing with tenacity on the cool, misty evening. Just two minutes in, midfielder Evan Coleman '12 fired a blazing shot from 20 yards out after a missed header by midfielder Jon Okafor '11 to earn the only goal of the night.
"They are one of the most formidable opponents that we face," Coleman said of St. John's. "We exploited their sides, we exploited their wings and we were able to open it up."
Paul Grandstrand '11 came up big for the Bears with seven saves. With just 11:30 left in the game, Grandstrand deflected a ball that came screaming at him from a Red Storm strike from inside the penalty box.
"It was a pure adrenaline rush," Grandstrand said. "To make a save like that feels good."
Grandstrand currently leads the nation in goals against average and save percentage while helping his team top all others in shutout percentage.
"I try not to dwell too much on stats," Grandstrand said. "The only stat that matters is wins and losses. And, you know, keeping the ball out of the net helps us do that."
Head Coach Pat Laughlin also noted Grandstrand's abilities.
"I don't know of many goalkeepers who can make the saves that Paul does," he said.
Grandstrand had solid support from his defense with a standout game from defender Dylan Remick '13. Remick had numerous crucial clears and several promising breaks downfield.
Okafor earned more minutes than he has in any game this season with just under 75 minutes of play. He had several close shots and kept the St. John's defenders guessing.
"John was giving them a lot of problems," Laughlin said. "We thought, hey, let's let him keep giving them problems and maybe he will get a second shot on the goal."
That second shot would never come, as the Red Storm picked up the pace and controlled the ball throughout the second half. Keeping the ball on their opponent's end of the field, St. John's had a couple close shots, threatening to become the first opponent to score against Bruno in four games.
"It was a hard-fought game and conditions weren't the greatest," said St. John's Head Coach Dave Masur. "Brown was very organized. They have a great program. They always have been and they will continue to be."
Brown and St. John's have met six times in the 84-year history of Brown soccer. This is the first win that the Bears have been able to capture. Several of the losses came in the national tournament, after the squads also faced each other in regular season play the same year.
Bruno will travel to Princeton on Saturday for a 4 p.m. game against the Tigers (5-3-1). Princeton is currently on a four-game win streak, after Ivy League Player of the Week Josh Walburn scored on an overtime penalty kick to lift his team to a 3-2 victory over Seton Hall Tuesday evening.