As a part of the Capital City Classic, the men’s soccer team collected a pair of victories in three days to stay undefeated. Friday, it came from behind to take down Georgia State in extra time on by a tally of 2-1, thanks to the late game heroics of Matthew Chow ’19, before handily defeating Southern Methodist Sunday 2-0. The quick turnaround between games necessitated the use of the team’s depth, meaning that some players were getting more minutes than usual. Yet the Bears looked fresh and ready to rise up to the challenge.
“Everyone came into the season really prepared fitness wise, which is great,” said co-captain Nate Pomeroy ’17.
The Bears took on GSU on a hot and muggy Friday night. The visitors boasted a potent offense that had scored a whopping 11 goals in its trio of victories, and they showed their prowess within two minutes. GSU’s Hannes Burmeister — the team’s leading goal scorer with six in four games — buried the team’s first shot on goal into the back of the net, giving it the 1-0 advantage.
In the 23rd minute, Bruno answered. Quinn English ’18 latched onto a ball from Carl Johan Mix ’19 and made his way to the byline. He lofted a ball into the center of the box where an unmarked Nico Lozada ’18 met the pass with a first time left-footed volley. The shot darted into the bottom left corner for Lozada’s first goal of the season and tied the score up at one.
GSU began applying relentless pressure on the Bears, but Bruno’s back line remained compact and organized, and the teams went into halftime even at one apiece.
In the second half, there was more end-to-end action. The teams exchanged chances, and veteran goalkeeper Erik Hanson ’17 was called on several times to make some clutch saves, including a reflex kick save from about 12 yards out.
Tyler Long ’17 had two golden chances to give Bruno the lead, but both attempts just missed the frame. Though the second half yielded more dangerous opportunities for the Bears, the teams entered into sudden-death extra time to determine a winner.
In the first period of extra time, Bruno was awarded a chance to win the game via penalty kick as Chow was hacked down by a Panthers defender. The referee blew his whistle, and Chow buried it to give the Bears a hard-fought 2-1 victory.
Once again, Head Coach Patrick Laughlin stressed the importance of a solid defensive quartet, especially in limiting a very strong offensive team from having quality chances.
“We really talked about the back four staying intact and not getting sucked out,” he said. “I thought the guys did a great job of moving their feet well, and I’m happy for them.”
It was a tough test for the Bears, who utilized 18 different players on the night. The defense shone again, as it repelled attack after attack.
With no time to rest on its laurels, the Bears came up against SMU on Sunday afternoon. Three changes were made as Jason Pesek ’17, Chow and Mix all slotted into the starting lineup for Jackson Goebel ’20, English and Rodrigo D’Andrea ’19 respectively.
The Bears came out of the gate a bit sluggish, but their typically strong defense prevented SMU from amassing any shots on target. After the slow start, Bruno’s offense kicked into gear and started to see more of the ball. The first shot on goal for either team came from Long in the 20th minute, but the goalie scooped it up easily.
In the 23rd minute, it appeared as though the Bears had broken the deadlock, but the goal was called back for offside. Will Cross ’17 had a chance in the waning minutes of the half after chesting the ball down, but the Mustang goalie saved it. By the end of the seesawing half, the Bears were in control, holding the Mustangs without a shot on goal or even a corner kick.
This dominance continued at the start of the second half. In the 49th minute, Long tallied his first goal of the season to put Bruno ahead. Lozada passed it to Pomeroy driving down the right side, who centered to Long for a tap-in goal.
SMU looked unable to recreate any of its rhythm from the first half. In the 72nd minute, Pomeroy doubled the lead. He intercepted a goal kick, dribbled just inside the box and shot into the back of the net for his second of the season.
No more goals would be scored, ending the game at 2-0 in favor of Bruno. Though SMU had 10 shots, only one was on target, and it never seemed to threaten Hanson in net. Thanks to the team’s incredible fitness and usage of 19 different players, it was able to have a strong second-half showing and put the game away, according to Pomeroy.
“Everyone who came in was able to perform well, and if they didn’t play Friday, they stepped up,” he said.
Next up, the team begins a five-game road stint with a fixture against UMass Lowell this Wednesday.