The men's soccer team saw its NCAA tournament run come to an end last night, falling to St. Mary's College in overtime 3-2 at Stevenson Field.
"The NCAA tournament is a great adventure," said Head Coach Patrick Laughlin. "For every team in the country, your season ends on a loss unless you are the champion. Unfortunately for us, our season ended tonight."
The Bears were a dark horse team, having entered the tournament as an at-large bid. The squad defeated Fairfield at home 3-2 before traveling to New York, where the Bears upset St. John's 1-0 and earned a spot in the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year.
St. Mary's dictated the pace early in the game, drawing first blood on a goal from Trevor Newquist in the 29th minute. The Bears appeared flat-footed in the opening half, and though the Gaels only outshot the Bears 7-6, the visiting team held a 5-0 advantage in corner kicks. It was not until the closing seconds of the half that the Bears produced a spark, as forward Ben Maurey '15 put a shot on goal that was just turned away by Gaels' goalkeeper Doug Herrick on a fingertip save.
The Bears burst out of the gate after halftime — Dylan Remick '13 tied the game just five minutes into the half by knocking in a set piece free kick from Jay Hayward '12.
With the Gaels still reeling, the Bears struck again in the 62nd minute when Sean Rosa '12 finished a cross from Taylor Gorman '12 from close range to give Brown a 2-1 advantage.
While many fans continued to celebrate the Bears' goal, the Gaels answered right back. In the 64th minute, Tom Mohoric was on the finishing end of a Jose Cabeza free kick and glanced a header past Brown goalkeeper Sam Kernan-Schloss '13.
The two teams battled for the remainder of the second half, but neither was able to find the back of the net and the game was sent into overtime.
Again the Bears emerged with vigor, and the crowd released a collective sigh as Rosa put a left-footed shot from point blank range just wide early on.
But in the end, St. Mary's came away with the golden goal. In the 97th minute, Newquist netted his second tally of the night, bringing the Bears' improbable tournament run to a close.
"Our team showed a lot of resilience and a lot of character," said St. Mary's head coach Adam Cooper. "There were spurts in the second half, and certainly in that first overtime, when they had the momentum and they were the better team at the time. But we found a way to weather that storm and come back and take advantage of our opportunities."
St. Mary's NCAA journey will continue in the program's second-ever tournament appearance. The Gaels earned their first-ever postseason win against Cal-State Bakersfield and defeated UC Irvine in double overtime to reach the Sweet 16. Sunday's win propels the Gaels into the quarterfinals, where they will face off against No. 1 seed North Carolina.
The two squads prided themselves on their defense throughout the season, with the Gaels earning 10 shut-outs and the Bears earning 11. Both teams were surprised by the high-scoring thriller.
"You look at the two teams, and you probably wouldn't expect that," Laughlin said. "But in the tournament, a lot of things change because you're in a situation where you win and advance, or lose and not advance. When they got the first goal, we knew we needed to get a goal. When we got up 2-1, they knew they needed to get a goal, so it creates that pressure."
Laughlin said it was difficult for his squad to see its season come to a close, especially given the numerous opportunities they had to clinch the victory.
Nonetheless, Ryan McDuff '13 said he was proud of his team's ability to fight for a spot in the Sweet 16 after narrowly entering the tournament with an at-large bid for the second consecutive year.
"If you asked most of the teams in the country if they'd be happy with a Sweet 16 berth, especially two in a row, they'd be happy," McDuff said. "I think that it's a testament to this team that we weren't satisfied."