For 81 minutes during Sunday’s game against the University of Rhode Island (0-5-4), the Brown women’s soccer team (4-1-2) struggled to score. Despite dominating the run of play, missed breakaways from Bears attackers and saves from URI goalkeeper Faith Hutchins kept the Ocean State rivalry matchup — which the Bears have recently dominated — knotted at 0-0 for the majority of the game.
It was a late goal from midfielder Miya Grant-Clavijo ’25 that rescued Brown from a draw with URI, which has yet to win a game this season. Her 81st minute score also ended Bruno’s 197-minute scoring drought that included a 0-0 draw against the University of Portland on Thursday.
“I’m disappointed with how our team played,” said Head Coach Kia McNeill. “We were really sloppy with the ball, (made) a lot of unforced errors (and had) a lot of turnovers.”
The Bears attempted a staggering 21 shots on goal, 12 of which were on target, while the Rams tested Brown goalie Claire Gagne ’24 just once. But uncharacteristically poor finishing from Brown attackers — including multiple breakaway chances for star forward Brittany Raphino ’24 that were saved by Hutchins — kept the Rams in the game until the final stretch.
“One thing that killed us this game and even last game is that we weren’t putting away those sitters,” said midfielder Sheyenne Allen ’24. “We’re getting the chances, we just need to put them away.”
With just nine minutes left to play, the Bears finally broke through. Receiving the ball at the top of the box, Raphino played a perfectly weighted through ball in behind for Grant-Clavijo, who sent a low shot past an onrushing Hutchins — but not past a URI defender, who cleared it off the line. But the Bears finally got a stroke of luck as the ball rebounded directly back to Grant-Clavijo, who fired it into the side netting.
“We had a lot of opportunities during the game, it’s just a matter of finishing them,” Grant-Clavijo said.
Brown will kick off Ivy League play next weekend and will quickly face its toughest tests of the conference schedule with games against Harvard (5-2-1) on Saturday and Princeton (5-1-1) the week after.
The Crimson has been the Bears’ top competitor during Bruno’s three-peat as Ivy League champion, and the head-to-head matchups between the two have often been decisive in the league’s final standings. Brown beat Harvard 4-2 in 2019 and 1-0 in 2021 before a hard-fought 1-1 draw last season kept the Bears in first place.
Raphino, who is in her fifth season with the Bears and was ranked in the preseason as the nation’s fifth-best player by TopDrawer Soccer, scored in all three matchups against Harvard.
Brown will likely need to bring a more prolific attack to Cambridge than it showed against URI in order to keep up with the Crimson, who have averaged 2.88 goals per game and currently sit at 22nd in the country. Despite scoring a total of 10 goals in their opening two games, the Bears have scored just four goals in their last five games, bringing Bruno’s average to 2 goals per game.
“Our forwards need to be a little more aggressive heading into the final third,” McNeill said. “We’re looking to defer and pass a lot more than we’re looking to go 1v1 and be aggressive. You’re not going to score if you don’t shoot the ball.”
“We can play better,” Allen said. “We’re not playing at our potential.”