Despite falling to Providence College 1-0 Thursday in a nail-biter, the women’s soccer team did not let its first loss of the season dampen the weekend mood. At Lafayette Sunday, the Bears (3-1-1) struck early and held strong late to top the Leopards (3-2-2) 1-0 in a game that truly tested the team’s physical and mental fortitude.
“We are happy with the result today against Lafayette,” Head Coach Kia McNeill wrote in an email to The Herald. “This is our fourth shutout this season which is a huge testament to Christine (Etzel ’19), our backline and the team as a whole.”
In the Bears’ Thursday evening matchup versus Providence (4-2-1), the team started off slow. At half-time the Friars had recorded seven shots to Brown’s one. Both teams had managed to each secure two corner kicks — with midfielder Sarah Cobb ’18 sending each into the box for the Bears. But while Providence was able to convert each opportunity into a header shot on goal, Bruno could not penetrate the Friars’ set-piece defense during these moments.
The first half was also highlighted by three diving saves from Brown keeper Etzel, including one especially acrobatic stop in the 14th minute.
But after the first period, neither team had the lead, and there was a chance for Brown to fight back. After the second half started, the Bears came out much more aggressive. Midfielder Megan Grant ’19 recorded a shot just two minutes into play, and her team followed that with three more over the next 20 minutes.
Despite Etzel’s success in the first half, she could not stop Providence forward Casey Estey in a one-one-one breakaway in the 66th minute. Estey’s goal would be the game-winner. Multiple attempts by Bruno in the final 20 minutes — two shots by co-captain Carly Gould ’17 and three corner kicks in the 73rd, 83rd and 88th minutes — did not find the back of the net, resulting in a tough first loss for the team.
But against Lafayette, the Bears would shake off any signs of physical or mental fatigue from their mid-week loss, making their presence known from the get-go. Gould came through for the Bears very early, scoring in the ninth minute to put them up by one. Unfortunately for Brown, the team was unable to capitalize on this momentum, leaving the score still at 1-0 at the half.
In the second period, with no cushion between winning and a tie, Brown had very little room for error. Leaning on a strong defense led by Etzel, its level-headed and ever-dependable goalie, Bruno produced multiple stops in its defensive third throughout the second half. None was more significant than Etzel’s 88th-minute penalty-kick stop to — quite literally — save the day and the win for the Bears.
Though these late-game heroics provided good entertainment for the few Brown fans in attendance, the Bears will undoubtedly focus on strengthening their offensive play moving forward and “taking pride in defending,” McNeill wrote.
Bruno still has a few weeks to add some more victories to the win column until its first Ivy League matchup at Dartmouth Sept. 25. In the meantime, the Bears will host Massachusetts Thursday at 7 p.m. and face Central Connecticut State away Sunday.
“Anytime you can go on a long road trip and come home with a W is positive,” McNeill wrote. “We are just looking to continue to get better each game to get ready for conference play.”