With its first Ivy League game against Dartmouth less than a week away, the women’s soccer team headed into its matchups versus the University of Massachusetts at Amherst Thursday and Central Connecticut State Sunday focused on securing wins that would build momentum and boost confidence moving forward.
Hosting UMass (2-3-1), Brown (3-1-2) displayed its defensive prowess once again, not allowing the Minutewomen to find the back of the net once during the entire competition. But despite dominating on their end — and even out-shooting UMass in the contest — the Bears were unable to finish any of their 12 offensive opportunities. After double overtime, the game ended in a 0-0 tie.
Already in top form, goalie Christine Etzel ’19 notched her fifth shutout of the season in impressive fashion, denying the Minutewomen with four saves. To put that into perspective, over the last 580 minutes of play, Etzel had let in just a single goal. With this performance, Etzel surpassed her total of four shutouts from last year. At this rate, Etzel is on pace to break the team’s all-time single-season shutout record set in 1984 by Brown legend Kathy Kostic ’87.
Etzel was quick to emphasize the work of her entire defensive line as critical to the team’s success.
“It’s definitely a majority team effort,” Etzel wrote in an email to The Herald. “Not just the back line, but starting all the way with our forwards. I wouldn’t have the shutouts without my team in front of me.”
Maclaine Lehan ’18, Katy Schmidt ’18, Nicole Phillips ’19 and Megan Grant ’19 make up these additional pillars of the Bears’ back line. As Etzel noted, each has been pivotal for Bruno. Lehan even netted a goal of her own in the team’s season opener against Rhode Island.
Still, as the Bears headed into their second game of the week versus CCSU (2-8-0), they focused on the final key ingredient for success: scoring.
Against the Blue Devils, Brown applied its experiences from the draw versus UMass, employing an aggressive offensive strategy from the starting whistle. Only a minute into play, rookie midfielder Abby Carchio ’20 fired a shot on goal that forced a hard save by CCSU goalkeeper Ashley Cavanaugh. Later in the half during a corner set piece, forward Kate Maher ’19 barely missed on a header that bounced off the post.
Still, with just over 30 minutes to go, the scoreboard read 0-0, with the Bears and the Blue Devils equal in almost every regard. Each team had exactly two shots, one save, four corners, an offside and eight fouls. Both had created multiple chances on offense with solid build-up and strong ball movement, but neither team was able to finish.
Finally, in the 73rd minute, with the Bears in dire need of some sort of edge, veteran Ella Warshauer ’17 scored a dazzling outside-the-box strike to put Brown up by one. Warshauer collected the ball around midfield and made quick work of the only defender between her and the goal with a quality bit of skill, quickly firing a shot to the lower left corner that evaded the diving goalie.
In fact, this was Warshauer’s first game of the season, having been sidelined by an injury dating back to last season. She was substituted in during the 29th minute, and the senior was clutch when it mattered for Bruno, putting away what would become the game-winning goal.
“We are all so pumped for her,” Etzel wrote. “She’s very crafty on the ball and definitely made a big difference in our game today. We’re so happy she was able to come back and make a strong recovery.”
Almost as expected, Etzel finished the game with another shutout performance. Having tallied her sixth such effort in seven games, Etzel’s presence will remain an invaluable asset for the Bears moving forward.
Now only a Wednesday game at 7:00 p.m. versus Sacred Heart stands between the Bears and conference play — beginning with a road game at Dartmouth Sunday at 1:00 p.m. The Big Green finished four spots below the Bears at seventh in the Ivy League standings last season. But success in Hanover will depend on Brown’s ability to bring all the pieces together — offense, defense and set plays — into a single cohesive effort. For the Bears, who currently sport a 0.86 goals per game average, offensive potency will be especially important in their run for the Ivy League crown.
“Bring it on,” Etzel wrote. “The team knows that Ivy League games are a whole different feel, and we’re all so excited. We’ve been preparing all season for these games, so we’re ready to get them started.”