The men's soccer team, which jumped up to 19th in this week's national soccer poll, battled Fairfield University to a 0-0 double overtime draw Tuesday evening at Stevenson Field. Head Coach Patrick Laughlin called it "a rematch from last year's tournament game," in which the Bears edged past the Stags by one goal to move on to the second round of the NCAA championships. Bruno (8-1-1, 1-0-0 Ivy League) and Fairfield (4-4-1) came into Tuesday's rainy game prepared for a tough match.
"I thought it was a hard-fought game and we were a bit unlucky to finish one of our many chances, but Fairfield is a good team and they fought hard," said Voltaire Escalona '14.
The Bears got off to a slow start as Fairfield edged Bruno in shots in the first 45 minutes of play. After the break, Bruno came back into the second half with renewed energy and outshot Fairfield by a staggering 15-1.
"The first half was pretty even," Laughlin said. "Both teams were playing well, but in the second half we really turned it on."
The Bears' offense rallied and took control of the ball in the second half of the game. Midfielder Kevin Gavey '13 led Bruno's offense with seven shots, including four on goal. Forwards Escalona and Ben Maurey '15 were also key players in the Bears' attack with four and three shots, respectively.
"We got off to a somewhat slow start, but by the second half and into overtime we had the majority of the control of both possession and chances," said Alex Markes '15.
Though the Bears were on the offensive for the majority of the half, Fairfield's defense held firm. The Stags' defenders were successful in clearing the ball off the line and their goalkeeper, Michael O'Keeffe, who played for New Zealand's 2012 Olympic soccer team, recorded 10 saves.
"The game was only close because we did not put away our opportunities," Markes said. "If we had even gotten one goal in, the structure of the game would have changed because they would not have been able to sit back defending and waiting to counterattack."
Bruno put a great deal of offensive pressure on Fairfield's defense, but the Stags continued to shut down each of the Bears' opportunities. In the first overtime period, Bruno held attacking control with four shots, three of which were on goal. But in the second overtime period, Fairfield was able to threaten in the second overtime period, registering two shots.
Overall, the Bears said they were a little disappointed in the result and felt the game just barely fell out of reach.
"We were able to create a lot of chances, especially in the second half and overtime, but we just couldn't find the back of the net," said co-captain Eric Robertson '13. "It was good to get a result and a shutout, but it was a game we could have won."
Markes said the team considers this game a "wake-up call" as it shifts its focus to this weekend's Ivy match-up against Princeton.
"We are still not there yet as a team," he said. "I expect a more focused mindset at practice this week as we prepare to fix some of our mistakes and come out strong away at Princeton."
With Bruno's recent jump in the national rankings, the Tigers will be hungry to defeat the Bears on their home field, but Escalona said the team is "excited and committed to taking all three points."