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No. 16 women’s soccer clinches Ivy Tournament Berth in tough fought 1-0 win over Columbia

First-minute strike from Brittany Raphino ’23.5 propels Bruno to victory

<p>Brittany Raphino ’23.5, scoring the match’s lone goal, moved into sole possession of second place in program history with 95 points.</p><p>Courtesy of Peter Schwaller via Brown Athletics</p>

Brittany Raphino ’23.5, scoring the match’s lone goal, moved into sole possession of second place in program history with 95 points.

Courtesy of Peter Schwaller via Brown Athletics

On a slick and rainy playing surface in New York City, Brown women’s soccer (9-1-2, 5-0-0 Ivy League) squared off against the Columbia Lions (7-3-3, 1-2-2), whose staunch defense had only conceded 5 goals before this game.

Brown star forward Brittany Raphino ’23.5 quickly broke through the Columbia defense: Raphino latched onto a Columbia turnover in the midfield, ran the length of the entire offensive half, eased past a Lions defender and coolly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal only 35 seconds into the game. Bruno was able to hold on to the early advantage for the remainder of the game, seizing a 1-0 win.

With her 10th goal of the season, Raphino moved into second place in program history for points. Her point count of 95 is bested only by Theresa Hirschauer ’88.

Brown’s defense managed to keep Columbia’s offense at bay, limiting them to only three shots on target, which were all saved by goalkeeper Clare Gagne ’24. Raphino’s early goal and Gagne’s clean sheet propelled them to being awarded Ivy League Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week respectively. 

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While the first half of the game proved a very tight affair — with neither side generating clear-cut chances — Columbia dominated the ball in the second, forcing Bruno to defend five corner kicks. 

According to Head Coach Kia McNeill, the Bears adjusted their tactics at the start of the second half.

“We changed to a 4-2-3-1 (formation) because we thought it would help secure a couple of things we didn’t like going on defensively in the first half,” McNeill wrote in an email to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “In retrospect, I actually think it gave Columbia more of the ball in the second half.” 

“Our team has shown that we can go in and out of several formations and continue to have success and this match was another example of that,” she added.

According to McNeill, the rain “wasn’t as bad of a factor as we were initially anticipating,” but Columbia’s “matter down” and “slick” turf still proved difficult.

Brown’s win continues their 27-game winning streak in Ivy League play over the past four years and clinches them a spot in this year’s Ivy League Tournament — the first of its kind —  which will include the top four finishing regular season teams. Sitting in first place, the Bears appear in prime position to host the tournament, which will take place on Nov. 3 and 5 on the campus of the Ivy team with the best conference record.

“Even though it wasn’t our best collective performance, I’m happy we were able to find a way to win,” McNeill wrote. “Throughout the trip, we talked about the fact that we were on a business trip, not a vacation. We knew that we could solidify our spot in the Ivy Tournament with a win against Columbia and bolster our consideration for the NCAA Tournament, so I gave them a brief reminder of what was on the line in this game and they came out the gate flying.”

Brown will look to continue its undefeated record and push for an Ivy League Tournament on home turf next Saturday as they embark on another New York road trip to face Cornell (3-3-6, 0-3-2) in Ithaca. The Big Red are coming off a 1-1 draw against Yale (5-4-4, 0-3-2) in New Haven this past weekend.

“Playing away at Columbia is always a tough road game,” McNeill wrote. “For us to leave with 3 points and a shutout is great.”

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