After Michael Chung ’23 fired a shot past the opposing goalkeeper in the first half of the men’s soccer team’s opener against Hartford University this Friday, it looked like the Bears were on their way to a winning start for the year.
But the Hawks roared back during the second half to defeat Brown. They tied the game on a successful penalty kick by Sergi Martinez and took the lead when their own star first-year, Addrian Knights-Browne, sent a screamer into the back of the net in the 89th minute. The late result gave Hartford (1-2) their first win of the year and sent Brown (0-1) back to the drawing board as they search for their first victory.
The first solid scoring opportunity for either team came in the 18th minute, when veteran forward Matthew Chow ’20 took a cross deep inside the Hartford penalty box but headed the ball wide left of the goal. Luckily for the Bears, they were able to convert on a chaotic possession just seven minutes later. Dennis Pyetsukh ’22 attempted to push the ball toward the Hartford goal but was surrounded by Hawk defenders and fell to the ground. While on the ground, Pyetsukh managed to pass the ball out to Chung, who steadied his feet and launched a 20-yard bullet into the goal. Chung, who made Brown’s starting lineup for his first game of his rookie season, notched the first goal of his collegiate career and the first of Brown’s 2019 season.
“From what we saw, (Chung) did a really good job of locking down the right side defensively, and then pushing up and attacking down the right flank,” said captain Daniel Schiller ’20.
Hartford had multiple opportunities to level the score before the end of the first half, but Bruno’s defense held firm. The Hawks used a corner in the 33rd minute to drive the ball into Brown’s box, but Bears goalkeeper James Swomley ’22 made a diving save to block a shot from Hartford’s striker Rasmus Karlsson. A Bruno turnover late in the half gave the Hawks a good fast-break chance, but they sent the ball over the goal. Despite Hartford’s late first half push, the Bears took a slim 1-0 lead into the break.
The Hawks’ persistence finally paid off in the 54th minute of the game. Nicolas Perez ’22.5 gave Karlsson a shoulder inside Brown’s penalty box, forcing the referee to give Hartford a penalty kick. Martinez stepped up to the penalty spot for the Hawks and calmly sent a direct shot into the right side of the goal.
Once Hartford tied the game, they were able to open up their offensive attack. Still, they failed to break through Brown’s stingy defense to score a goal from the field until late. A hard foul from Will Mims ’21 earned him a yellow card in the 80th minute, but the Bears maintained their defensive aggression.
The score remained tied at 1-1 up to the 88th minute, until Knights-Browne stepped up for the Hawks. His efforts paid off when he took an assist from Aitor Elena and sent a low shot into Bruno’s goal. The Hawks held off two late desperation shots from the Bears to clinch their first win of the season.
Brown looks to move on quickly from Friday’s defeat, said defender Jack Hagstrom ’19.5. “It’s behind us. We saw a lot of good soccer today, it was exciting. Unfortunately it didn’t come out our way today,” Hagstrom said.
Hartford’s offensive tenacity was apparent in the final statline for the match. The Hawks outshot Brown 13-8, led 7-3 in shots on goal and led 6-1 in corner kicks. Despite allowing the winning score, Swomley impressed with five saves.
Head Coach Patrick Laughlin also pointed out the strong play of Chung and Owen Schwartz ’23 in their first collegiate game as a positive sign. “I’m really proud of those guys, because your first college game is challenging. And, you’re playing an experienced team in Hartford,” Laughlin said.
After opening their season at home, the Bears head south to the nation’s capital for their next two matchups. In D.C., Brown will take on Howard University Thursday before facing George Washington University Saturday.