The women’s soccer team played a flawless 135 minutes of soccer in its two games this weekend, but a sloppy first half against Providence College kept the Bears from sweeping the homestand.
Playing and competing for the entire game “was a big key for us,” said Head Coach Phil Pincince. “We played really well for 45 minutes against Providence, and we played hard and well for the full 90 minutes” against Florida Atlantic, he said.
Providence College 2, Brown 1
It was a tale of two halves against the Friars (5-2) Thursday, with the visitors dominating the Bears (2-2) in the early going. Providence opened the scoring just five minutes into the match, as Rachel Ugolik finished off a team goal inside Bruno’s box.
The Friars kept up the pressure and were rewarded just before the half. Jill Clapp finished a through ball from Courtney Maguire, giving Providence a decisive two-goal lead on the last kick of the first half.
The Bears made an effort to win the ball, but they could not maintain possession throughout the opening 45 minutes. The Friars capitalized on the lack of possession, outshooting Bruno 9-4.
In the second half, the Bears ramped up the offensive pressure. The team fired 14 shots at Providence goalkeeper Kristyn Shea, and in the 74th minute, Celia Story ’19 got Bruno on the board. The first-year knocked the ball into the back of the net with assists from Amanda Lane ’19 and Carly Gould ’17.
The Bears had a number of chances to level the score, but the PC backline fought off Bruno’s best chances and escaped Stevenson Field with the win.
Brown 1, Florida Atlantic 0
If the Bears were bothered by the loss to the Friars, they certainly did not show it in the first half against Florida Atlantic (6-2) Sunday. Bruno dominated possession in the opening 15 minutes of the game and produced a plethora of chances.
At the 10-minute mark, Mikela Waldman ’18 found a pocket of space behind the FAU backline and ripped the ball across the face of goal, but she could not find a friendly foot. Though the ball rolled out for a throw, the Bears won it back deep in FAU territory, leading to a low, driven shot from Erin Katz ’16 that rolled just wide of the far post.
Bruno finally capitalized on its possession and high-pressure play in the 13th minute, when Christine Etzel ’19 launched a towering punt from the Bears’ box. Katz nodded the ball through FAU’s backline, where it found Jillian DeSimone ’16. The midfielder calmly lofted a volley over the outstretched arm of FAU goalkeeper Sydney Drinkwater and into the left corner to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.
DeSimone is “back with a vengeance from that ACL injury,” Pincince said, referring to the injury that sidelined her for the entirety of the 2014 season. “What you’re seeing is exactly what I know she can do.”
Despite playing in just her third collegiate game, Etzel looked like a seasoned veteran in net. The sure-handed first-year stuffed two one-on-one opportunities for FAU’s top striker, Geovana Alves, and made a number of solid saves.
Looking for an equalizer, FAU pushed the pace in the second half, but captain Sarah Moody ’16 and Gould held down the midfield and squashed any potential threats. Along with her long punt, Etzel demonstrated her strong punch, as she cleared a number of crosses that the Owls generated from the wings.
FAU even moved to an ultra-aggressive 2-4-4 in the closing minutes of the match, but Bruno’s defense stood tall and helped Etzel earn her first collegiate clean sheet. Bruno’s netminder finished an impressive performance with six saves.
“It was exciting; everyone is happy for her,” Pincince said of Etzel’s shutout. “We’re really happy about the team performance. I don’t think we missed a beat with any of the subs. Everyone came in ready to play.”
Next weekend, the Bears will travel to UMass (1-3-2) Thursday before hosting No. 20 Connecticut (6-1) Saturday.
Pincince said his team will work on fine-tuning some small aspects of its game during practice, such as midfield passing and runs by both strikers and overlapping backs on the wings. He expressed excitement at the results of this weekend and the challenges on the horizon.
“We’re playing at UMass, which is always a tough place to play,” Pincince said. “And I’m delighted to bring back (Head Coach) Len Tsantiris and the UConn Huskies. They haven’t been to Stevenson Field in 20 or 25 years, so I’m so glad they’re playing us here.”