Welcome back to the Bruno Brief, I’m Carter Moyer, podcast producer. On this week’s episode, we spoke with Nicholas Miller, senior staff writer, about his reporting on the continued success of the Brown women’s soccer team.
On Oct. 22, the Bears won their fourth straight Ivy League title, continuing a run of dominance not seen in Ivy League soccer in decades. Over the last four seasons, the team has never lost in conference play, recording 24 wins and two draws.
This weekend, Brown will host a postseason conference tournament to determine which Ivy League team will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. But regardless of the outcome, the team, which is ranked 14th in the country, will still likely make the national tournament.
So Nicholas, tell me about this run of dominance. How has this team been so good?
Definitely at the heart of this is Brittany Raphino ’23.5 who's their attacker, who’s been there these past four seasons. A lot of their attack goes through her, a lot of their attack is structured around playing balls over the top for her to run on to. It is more than her, coach Kia McNeill has been there those whole four years, you do have to attribute a solid deal of it to her culture, just in the sense of every time that an Ivy League challenger that's coming up and there's a big game Coach McNeill always gets them ready to play and they always come out with a positive result.
They have once again gone undefeated in Ivy League play. This is their fourth straight year doing that. They are now ranked 14th in the country. This is once again sort of a continuation of an unprecedented dynasty for the Brown soccer program. And this is particularly amazing considering soccer as a sport and that the low scoring makes consistency really difficult.
And what has been the story of the team’s performance this year?
At the start of the year it was uncertain about whether Brown would be able to maintain the dominance it had in previous years. Kayla Duran ’22.5, who was a center back last year, was an all-American, great, great defender, she graduated. They had other important players who graduated. At the beginning of the year, there were some kind of bumps in the road. You have to attribute this year, the rise of some really good freshmen, particularly midfielder Joy Okonye ’27, she's leading the Ivy League in assists with eight. Audrey Lam ’27, is another freshman who's played a big role in the midfield. And defenders Jessica Hinton ’24, and Naya Cardoza ’26 in particular have filled the gap that Kayla Duran left.
Brown won the regular season and is officially named Ivy League champion but they have this tournament, which will determine the automatic bid for the NCAA tournament so that the top four teams in the Ivy League will play in the tournament that's held at Brown, because Brown is the number one seed, so Brown will will play against Columbia. And then if it wins, will play the winner of Harvard versus Princeton. And Harvard and Princeton are typically thought of as the two kind of other best teams in the Ivy League. But Columbia has been really good this year. They actually just beat Princeton, 1-0, and then the game before they beat Yale 4-0, so though they’ll be a formidable opponent. Now if Brown loses, they're still likely to make the NCAA tournament, but also at stake here is whether they're able to host a game in the first round, that kind of thing.
Tell me about the upcoming Ivy League tournament. What are some of the storylines to follow?
The main one is that you know, Brittany Raphino is a senior, other seniors are Ava Seelenfreund ’24, who's been Brittany Raphino’s partner in attack for most of this stretch. Clare Gagne ’24, the goalie is also a senior. Sheyenne Allen ’23.5 is a senior. So they have a lot of seniors who play big roles. And so after this year, you know, Kia McNeill will still recruit well because of Brown’s reputation, but I think there is kind of a sense that this might be, you know, their last best chance, just in the sense of particularly Brittany, she won't be able to play for for Brown anymore. In the past they've had a lot of success in the Ivy League, but they've lost in the first or second round in the NCAA Tournament. So this there is a sense that might be their last chance to take a long, deep run into the NCAA tournament.
Nicholas, thanks so much for coming on.
Thanks for having me.
Here is a recap of other important stories from last week.
Beta Omega Chi, a Brown-based Black fraternity founded in 2013, celebrated its 10-year anniversary last weekend during the Black Alumni Reunion. Along with hosting a community lunch and a fraternity-wide community service event, current members and alumni alike reflected on the values of “family, education, loyalty and legacy,” which bring them together.
In other news, the newly renovated Churchill House, which is home to Brown’s Department of Africana Studies and Rites and Reasons Theatre, was celebrated in a dedication ceremony during Black Alumni Reunion. The $20 million project started in July 2022 and added 3,000 square feet of space, along with accessibility and modernization updates.
Lastly, Brown Arts Institute’s MOVEMENTS journal, titled “Dissonance,” made its online debut on Oct. 27. The journal’s purpose is to allow its contributors to reconnect with each other, nature and the world, while giving voices to underrepresented groups in art.
Thanks again for tuning into the eighth episode of this season of the Bruno Brief. This episode was produced by me, Carter Moyer, Jacob Smollen and Finn Kirkpatrick, edited by Adam Xu, Annabelle Kim, and Christine Okulo, and scripted by Amanda Sun. If you like what you hear, subscribe to The Bruno Brief wherever you get your podcasts and leave a review. Thanks for listening. We'll see you next week.