The No. 19 men's soccer team continued its winning ways this weekend in a tough battle against Ivy League rival Harvard, clinching a 2-1 victory in overtime at Stevenson Field. In front of a large and enthusiastic home crowd, Bruno (9-1-2, 2-0-1 Ivy) won an important conference matchup against a struggling (1-7-3, 0-2-1 Ivy) Crimson squad.
"Harvard came in needing a win, and we were ready for that," said Head Coach Patrick Laughlin. "The third week for the Ivy season is a really big week since it starts the separation of teams that are contenders from the teams that are not contenders."
With yet another conference win under their belt, the Bears are in a good position to defend their Ivy League title. In the first half of the game, the Bears performed at a high level, putting consistent offensive pressure on the Crimson. Laughlin called Bruno's showing "as good as any soccer we have played all year."
"We were able to move the ball well and create a lot of good chances," said co-captain Eric Robertson '13.
Bobby Belair '13 led the Bears' dangerous offensive force, tallying the first goal of the game in the tail-end of the first half. The goal came from a superb buildup combination that began on the left side with Thomas McNamara '12.5, who passed the ball to Dylan Remick '13. The ball then reached Voltaire Escalona '14, who sent a cross into the box. Belair dove in with a header to give the Bears a 1-0 edge heading into the second half.
"Voltaire Escalona played the perfect ball into the path of my run," Belair said. "Lots of credit to him for being able to pick me out ... it was impossible for me to miss from there."
But Harvard came out strong at the start of the second half, as forward Jake Freeman slotted in the equalizer in the 47th minute. After slipping past Bruno's defense, Freeman took a low shot into the left corner, just out of the reach of goalkeeper Sam Kernan-Schloss '13.
"We made a mistake close to the goal where we gave them the ball, and that cost us a goal," Laughlin said. "Not a lot of great soccer was played from there on, so it became an Ivy battle."
"We started very sluggish and gave up a very bad goal," Remick said. "However, by the end of the second half, we were playing well again and putting good pressure on them."
Neither team scored for the remainder of the period, pushing the game into overtime.
"We battled back and created some good looks on goal," Robertson said. "Their goalkeeper had some great saves to keep them in it, but we were on top of them going into overtime."
"Our goal in OT was to keep playing our game and finish our chances," Remick said.
The Bears played heated, physical soccer in the extra minutes, and the Crimson responded in kind. But Bruno was able to put away the golden goal six minutes into the first overtime period.
On a counterattack off a Crimson corner kick, Ben Maurey '15 sent a strong cross into the middle of the box, setting up Remick to find the back of the net.
"As the cross came I just wanted to get a shot on goal, and fortunately I struck it well," Remick said. "We were very happy to get the win and keep ourselves with a chance to win the league.
The match was marked by intensity from both sides until the golden goal.
"We did a good job limiting chances, minus one slip-up, but also a great job creating chances," co-captain Ryan McDuff '13 said. "There were great performances by the team all around, and we are really looking forward to battle Cornell for that first-place Ivy standing."
"It was great to get another win in the league, but we have a lot of work to do coming into the final stretch of the season," Robertson said.
With this win, Bruno took second place in the league standings with seven points, trailing first-place Cornell by two points.
"A victory over Cornell would put us in position to control our own destiny," Belair said.
But before the Bears can focus on their next Ivy matchup, Bruno will play Boston College Tuesday evening. The Bears and Eagles have faced off in key matchups in the past several seasons. Bruno defeated the Eagles in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament in front of a raucous Stevenson Field crowd, but BC took revenge of sorts last season with a 2-0 victory that ended the Bears' 17-game unbeaten streak at home.