The men's soccer team endured two matchups decided in double overtime in New York City, falling to Columbia 2-1 before battling No. 9 St. John's to a 0-0 draw.
Columbia 2, Brown 1
The Bears (5-4-1, 0-1 Ivy) opened conference play Saturday on the road against Columbia (4-5-1, 1-0) on a tough note, suffering a 2-1 loss in double overtime.
"The Ivy League is such a competitive league that every win is going to be very tight," said Head Coach Patrick Laughlin. "There are going to be moments that decide the game, and whoever does better in those crucial moments of games is going to win. This weekend, Columbia just did better than us in those moments."
After a scoreless first half, the Lions got on the board just minutes after halftime off a header by Henning Sauerbier. But the Bears responded with a goal from Sean Rosa '12.5, tying the score 1-1, where it stood at the end of regulation.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the first overtime, but in the 102nd minute, Columbia's Will Stamatis flicked in the golden goal.
"On the road against a tough Ivy League opponent, we should have been more concerned about coming away with at least a tie," said Ryan McDuff '13. "I think we exposed ourselves a little bit too much, which led to their second goal in overtime."
This is the first loss the Bears have suffered at the hands of the Lions in over a decade.
"They have gotten a lot better in the recent years," McDuff said. "We have had a history of beating them going back too many years, and it is a tough place to play."
Brown 0, St. John's 0
Three days after returning from Columbia, the Bears again visited the Big Apple Tuesday to face No. 9 St. John's (7-2-2), battling to a 0-0 tie in another double-overtime thriller.
"I thought the guys really bounced back well," Laughlin said. "We traveled to New York Saturday, came back late Saturday night after a double-overtime loss, got on a bus again on Monday night and played Tuesday night at St. John's, which is one of the most difficult places to play in the country. I thought the guys did a great job to not give up any goals and come out with a draw after 110 minutes of soccer."
Despite the impressive performance against a talented Red Storm squad, Laughlin said his team needs to step up if it wants to reach its full potential.
"Things happen over the course of a season that sort of define a team," he said. "I think we're still in that process of figuring out who we are and working on getting better each day."
Nonetheless, McDuff said the matchup against St. John's was a "cornerstone game" because it proved that, after the loss to Columbia, the Bears could still compete with any team in the country.
"Our goal all year has been to win the Ivy League," he said. "I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves going into the game against Columbia, and it showed in our play. Against St. John's, we started relaxing, and we didn't have that pressure on ourselves to win every game. We're going to believe that we're the underdog going into every game so that we can come out with that mindset and win."
The Bears return to Stevenson Field Saturday night for their league home opener against the reigning Ivy League champion Princeton. After going undefeated in conference play last year, the Tigers lost their 2011 opening matchup against Dartmouth.
Because there is such parity in the division, Laughlin said he is optimistic about his team's chances.
"In this league, one game doesn't decide the season," Laughlin said. "The league is so competitive that you are going to see a variety of teams competing for the title this year. Are we one of them? We won't know that until the games come."