It was a weekend of nail biters for the men’s soccer team, as it lost both of its matchups at home — 1-0 against Harvard Friday and 3-2 against No. 3 Clemson Sunday. After the third weekend of Ivy League play, the Bears (6-6-1, 1-1-1 Ivy) dropped behind the pace, falling into a tie for fourth.
“We need to keep working so we’re not having to fight from behind,” Head Coach Patrick Laughlin said. “We don’t want to be chasing the game.”
The Crimson (7-3-2, 2-0-1), currently tied for the best offense among Ivy teams, entered the game riding a five-game unbeaten streak. The Crimson have scored at a blistering clip of 1.75 goals per game, thanks in large part to leading Ivy point-scorer Jake Freeman.
Brown began Friday’s contest with a faster tempo, while Harvard stuck to a slower, more calculating approach to its build-up play. In the latter half of the first stanza, Harvard slowly gained momentum. The Bears continued to weather the relentless pressure until relief came in the form of the halftime whistle. The score remained 0-0.
The Bears came out in the second half with a renewed sense of urgency. They set the pace with high energy and an offensive press that disrupted the Crimson’s passing flow. Bruno created the first few chances of the half, including a long throw by Quinn English ’18 that needed a better finish at the back post.
But Harvard hit back. Eric Gylling redirected a free kick from the right side, giving the Crimson a 1-0 lead in the 64th minute.
As the minutes ticked by, the team opted for a slight formation change to try to ignite the offense. Will Cross ’17 came on for Justin O’Brien ’19, shifting the Bears to a three-man defensive back line.
The Bears went on to create a majority of the threats in the game’s last 15 minutes. The crucial chance of the match fell to Matthew Chow ’19 when the ball was slid into him as he streaked toward goal, but the goalkeeper successfully blocked his shot. The game went on to end 1-0 in the Crimson’s favor.
“I think we showed great effort and intensity throughout the game,” said co-captain James Myall ’18. “I feel we were a bit unlucky with all of the chances we had.”
The team had little time to fixate on this result, as it took on Clemson (9-2-3) two days later. Neither team could gain a strong foothold in the first 20 minutes. The Tigers continued to try to play a slower possession game. The Bears worked hard to attempt to disrupt, resulting in a few chances for them after they caught their opponent in possession.
The wheels began to come off somewhat when Clemson struck twice in seven minutes. The first came off a cross from the right side that was headed straight up by a Bruno defender. Goalie Teo Norhagen ’19 came out to try to punch it out but was beaten to it by Grayson Raynor, who kicked it up and over him for a goal. Soon thereafter, a free kick from a similar spot was headed in by Mauriq Hill to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead going into the break.
Much like against Harvard, the Bears came out in the second frame with more vigor and pressure. Their efforts were rewarded with two goals in five minutes.
In the 49th, Jason Pesek ’17 crossed in a ball from a nearly identical spot as the two Clemson goals. It was headed down by Jack Hagstrom ’19 to Tyler Long ’17 for a tap-in goal.
Just five minutes later, Long netted another to tie the game. English launched his signature long throw into the box. The veteran forward rose and headed it downward, beating the goalie at the near post to bring the Bears back level.
The second half was nearly all Bruno, as it continued to create more threats on goal than it had in the first half.
Clemson finally retaliated. A throw-in by the Tigers led to a redirection into the back of the net, restoring their lead.
Brown fought valiantly for another equalizer, but the Tigers’ defense did just enough to prevent that. The game concluded 3-2 for the visitors, dropping the Bears to six total losses on the season — one more than they had all of last campaign.
The Bears hope to rebound next weekend when they host last-place Cornell and attempt to put their Ivy campaign back on track.
“We’re looking to get four wins (for the rest of the season),” co-captain Nate Pomeroy ’17 said. “That’s what we really need to make a statement in the Ivy League.”