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Men’s soccer draws in defensive battle against Hofstra

Coming off a tough loss to Cornell, Bears end Hofstra game in hard-fought, scoreless draw

Coming off a heartbreaking loss Saturday to the Cornell Big Red, the men’s soccer team hoped to rebound against a tough Hofstra University squad Tuesday night at Stevenson-Pincince field. Though a spirited defensive performance led by five saves from goalkeeper Max Gross ’21 helped the Bears keep a clean sheet, Hofstra’s defense also held steady and the game ended in a 0-0 draw. Brown completed a four game homestand with its match against the Pride and finished 2-1-1.

Hofstra (7-5-4, 4-2-1 CAA) presented a difficult non-conference match-up for the Bears (7-6-1, 1-3-0 Ivy), as the Pride had gone through an eight-game period earlier in the season without allowing a goal, including a 0-0 draw against No. 21 UNC-Wilmington. Given this, the Bears considered Tuesday’s draw a positive result. “We came off a tough loss and wanted to show we had some energy and fight, and we did that,” said team captain Gabe Welp ’19.

Though no goals were scored, the game had plenty of action, especially in the early minutes. In just the third minute, a corner kick for Hofstra allowed George O’Malley to attempt a short-range shot, which clanged off the post. Immediately afterwards, John Vrablic ’21 made a transition drive down the field but his shot was barely saved by Hofstra goalkeeper Leo Arkhanhelskyi.

Hofstra put consistent pressure on the Brown defense early. Bruno bent, allowing four Pride corner kicks in the first 12 minutes, but did not break, as Hofstra could not convert on their opportunities. Brown recovered and mounted their own attack, including multiple shots by Derek Waleffe ’22. One of Waleffe’s attempts was impressively saved by Arkhanhelskyi with one hand in the 16th minute, while another attempt  just missed the net in the 19th.

Play slowed down for the remainder of the first half, although each team had another good opportunity to take the lead before the break. Hofstra’s Storm Strongin had a great chance at a short-range score, but Gross slid in for the clutch save. Nathan Plano ’21 similarly had a low shot blocked in the 36th minute.

Both defenses continued to crack down in the second half, with solid scoring opportunities becoming few and far between. Bruno’s best chances of the half came when Toby Howell ’19 controlled the ball inside the penalty box in the 66th minute but sent a slow roller wide, and a shot from Justin O’Brien ’19 that clipped the crossbar.

With no scoring during regulation, the teams went to overtime. Overtime had been one of Brown’s strengths up until this game — previously, Bruno was 3-0 in overtime games this season. But it was not to be this time, as the Pride defense proved impenetrable. In the second overtime, Daniel Schiller ’20 and Matthew Chow ’20 had shots on goal that could have given Brown the walk-off win, but both were corralled by Arkhanhelskyi. Strongin also had a late attempt to win it for Hofstra, but hit the crossbar.

As time wound down, action between the teams got chippy, with O’Malley and O’Brien each picking up a yellow card in the final two minutes. But neither team could net an overtime score.

Gross, whose performance in goal was crucial to Brown’s clean sheet, credited his teammates with the strong defensive effort. “We won a lot of headers around the box, got a lot of clearances and did a good job tracking our men,” he said.

Head Coach Patrick Laughlin was unsure if the Bears could have done any more to score a winning goal, despite the opportunities they created. “Our players were trying to convert, we just couldn’t finish,” he said.

With the game against Hofstra completed, the Bears have wrapped up their non-conference schedule. Brown will resume their Ivy League slate on Saturday night on the road against Penn,  the only remaining winless team in Ivy League play.


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