The No. 11 men's soccer team was defeated 2-1 by Dartmouth in a hard-fought battle Friday evening in Hanover, N.H. The Big Green (9-7-0, 5-2 Ivy) scored a controversial buzzer-beating goal in overtime, handing the Bears (12-2-3, 4-1-2) their second loss of the year.
"It was a disappointing loss," said Alex Markes '15. "We came in looking to get a confident win at Dartmouth before any postseason play, and unfortunately we came up a little short at the end. Although there was serious controversy behind their final goal, we can only blame ourselves for not putting the team away."
The Bears began the game strong and gained an early 1-0 edge over the Big Green in the 21st minute. Midfielder Thomas McNamara '12.5 took a corner kick and sent it directly into the middle of the box. Defender Eric Robertson '13 headed the ball into the top left corner of the net to give Bruno the lead.
But it did not take long for Dartmouth to equalize. In the 43rd minute, Andoni Georgiou took a pass from Eric Jayne and shot the ball low to the right, just out of reach of goalkeeper Sam Kernan-Schloss '13. "I was really happy with how we started scoring early in the first half, but it was difficult giving up a goal right before halftime," said Head Coach Patrick Laughlin.
"Dartmouth did a good job taking away our best assets and pressuring us from the start," said co-captain Ryan McDuff '13. "We had a bunch of fails and turnovers that were very uncharacteristic of us."
In the second half, both teams created multiple chances. Bruno "definitely had the better chances of the half," according to Kernan-Schloss, but with no team able to find the back of the net, the game went into overtime.
The game ended dramatically at the last whistle of the first overtime. Dartmouth was threatening in the 18-yard box, and the Bruno defense's clear attempts were blocked by the Big Green. One of the blocks fell right in front of Colin Skelly, who struck it in the goal just as the buzzer sounded.
"It is frustrating because we pride ourselves as a team with one of the best defenses in the nation," Markes said.
It was a controversial goal, since it appeared that time had expired by the time the ball crossed the goal line, but the referees counted it as good.
"Unfortunately, the final call didn't go our way," said Ben Maurey '15. "But we can't throw blame around because we shouldn't have been in that position anyway."
The Bears went into Friday's match as the lone Ivy League team without a conference loss. They were looking to clinch the automatic berth into the NCAA tournament with a win and a Cornell loss or tie. Bruno fell just short of that target, and Cornell clinched the title and automatic berth with a 1-0 victory over Columbia Saturday night.
"It's always disheartening to not win the Ivy League, especially with such a successful season, but we almost have something to prove now," Maurey said. "Even in our practice (Sunday), I saw a level from everyone that I haven't seen in a long time this year."
"The result was heartbreaking at the time, but we are looking to turn it into a positive," said Bobby Belair '13. "The loss was a bit of a wake-up call from our inability to finish in the attacking third the past two games."
The Bears will have to wait until the Division I Men's Soccer Selection Show on NCAA.com this evening at 5:30 p.m. to see if they receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
"We hope we still get a chance to go to the tournament because we feel we deserve a shot and can hang with any of the teams in the country," Maurey said.
"If we get a chance to play on Thursday, then you can expect a team that is fired up and ready to prove to ourselves and the nation who BMS really is," Markes said.