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Overtime loss at Penn delivers blow to men's soccer's conference title hopes

2-1 overtime defeat marks first loss to Quakers in six years, Chow ’19 nets lone goal for Bears

The men’s soccer team dropped a tight match that went into overtime at Penn Saturday night by a score of 2-1. First-year Dami Omitaomu netted both goals for the Quakers (5-5-5, 3-2 Ivy), while Matthew Chow ’19 scored the Bears’ lone goal. It was an important match for two teams looking to keep pace with the top Ivy squads. As a result of its loss, Bruno (7-7-1, 2-2-1) dropped to fifth among the Ancient Eight with two games remaining in its season.

Coming into the match, it was not only a matter of whether the Bears could stop a fairly prolific offense but also if they could take advantage of a leaky defense. The Quakers sport the third highest scoring offense at 1.53 goals per game, thanks in large part to veteran Alec Neumann’s eight goals on the season — the second most among Ivy players. At the same time, the host also possesses the third-most porous defense, which allows 1.60 goals per game.

Initially, it was clear that the two teams were evenly matched. The early stages of the game saw few offensive threats from either squad. Nagged by the absence of a couple key players, it was clearly going to be an uphill climb for the Bears.

The game’s first shot did not come until the 11th minute by Chow, which required a save by the Quakers’ keeper. The half continued with both teams still probing but missing that final edge. Penn’s first shot came in the 20th minute and fizzed wide right. The Quakers then had two shots on frame, both of which goalie Erik Hanson ’17 did well to save. At the end of a hesitant first stanza by both teams, the score was 0-0, with each team recording three shots.

But after the break, the action picked up immensely. Within four minutes, Penn had its first goal. Just three minutes after having a shot saved by Hanson, Omitaomu received the ball from Neumann in the top right corner of the box. He shot it far post and beat Hanson this time around, giving the host the 1-0 lead.

Brown replied by upping its offensive intensity. Between the 57th and 60th minutes, Eric Sugarman ’17, Louis Zingas ’18 and Chow each peppered a shot onto goal, two of which required saves and one of which was blocked. Subsequently, Penn’s captain Sam Wancowicz nearly doubled his team’s advantage, but his shot flew wide.

In the 83rd minute, Brown found the elusive equalizer. Chow took on and skillfully beat his defender and finished with a shot in the top left corner. It was his team-leading sixth goal of the season, eclipsing the most by any Bear from the 2015 campaign.

Each team had two more shots before the whistle blew for the end of regulation. Tied at 1-1, the game was sent into sudden death.

Much like the whole of the game, neither team could gain the upper hand in the extra period. The teams exchanged fouls — but not any shots — before Penn dealt the killer blow.

On a set play, the Quakers advanced the ball forward, which ended up with Omitaomu at the top left corner of the box. He created a little space and rocketed a shot past Hanson for the decisive goal. The whistle blew 2-1 in favor of Penn — its first victory over Bruno since 2010.

In the end, though the Bears held the shot advantage at a tally of 12-10, they could not capitalize on all of their opportunities. With the overtime loss, the team fell six points behind Ancient Eight leader Harvard. With only two games left in the 2016 campaign, the Bears’ hopes for an Ivy League title are all but squashed. To give itself a chance — however slim — at an NCAA tournament bid, the team would need to emerge victorious in its last two matches.

The Bears return to Stevenson-Pincince Field Saturday night against Yale for their final home fixture of the season.


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