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Ocel’s header leads Brandeis to best start in 26 years

By Brian Tabakin

Section: Sports

September 21, 2012

The 12th ranked men’s soccer team continued their early season success with a thrilling victory in double overtime against rival Babson Beavers on Wednesday night. The victory is the 13th straight for the Judges, dating back to last season. With the win, the Judges improve to 8-0 on the season with UAA conference play rapidly approaching.
For the first time this season, the Judges entered the break facing a deficit. While the Judges outshot the Beavers in the first half, 6-4, they had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. In the 29th minute of play, Babson All-American senior Eric Anderson scored against the Judges for the seventh in his collegiate career. Taking advantage of some lazy and sloppy defense by the Judges, junior Mike Fisher played a nice through ball from the right flank to Kevin Israel who then redirected the ball to Anderson. Anderson then made a spectacular diving-header to net the first goal of the match.
While the Judges had numerous chances to score in the first half, they were unable to successfully take advantage of their shots on goal and time of possession.
Sam Ocel ’13 downplayed the possibility that the team’s undefeated start was weighing on them.
“We try to keep our cool. There’s so many misses but our teammates always back us up,” Ocel said. “I had some chances. But every time I missed, my teammates would help me out.”
Lee Russo ’13 added, “It’s part of the game. You’re not going to score on every chance. You just have to try to capitalize on the one’s you do.”
A common occurrence in this rivalry is the very physical and chippy style of play. Ocel noted, “We try to play physical. It gives us a little mental edge to keep us in the game.”
After halftime, the Judges came out and played a strong and up-tempo second half. Head Coach Mike Coven said that it “was the best half we’ve played in two to three years.”
Brandeis completely dictated the pace of play in the second half. While they continued to struggle to capitalize on their scoring chances, they continually got opportunities. The Judges finally notched the equalizing goal in the 66th minute.
Babson keeper Jackson Klein, who had made a pair of great saves on chances from Russo and Tyler Savonen ’15 just a few minutes earlier, looked like he had shut the door on yet another Judges’ scoring chance. Klein blocked Russo’s initial attempt and also Ocel’s rebound; however, he was unable to corral the ball and Russo secured the second rebound to knot the game at 1-1. The goal was Russo’s team-leading eighth of the season and 28th of his career, moving him into ninth place on the Judges’ career list. He also became the 13th player in program history to register 70 points.
After Russo’s equalizer, the game remained scoreless for the rest of the second half. While Brandeis maintained scoring chances, they were continually stymied by Klein.
It was the same story in the first overtime with neither team able to score the golden goal; however, in the second overtime, the Judges finally were able to close out the match.
Just two minutes into the second overtime, from the deep end of Babson’s side of the field, Russo threw a long-ball into play toward Ocel at the near post. Ocel headed it across the goal line hoping to find a teammate but instead his header found the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season and his third game-winner.
Immediately after scoring the golden goal, Ocel was swarmed by fans as they rushed onto the field from what they are now calling Coven’s Corner. Throughout the entire game the fans were actively involved.
Coven commented on the motivation behind the school spirit.
“The school spirit that has been generated the last few games, it shows that Brandeis has school spirit. I think it’s a beautiful thing. The fans are great. They’re boisterous, they’re obnoxious, they don’t do anything that’s off-color, and I think that the way my team responds to them after we score a big goal, and after the win today is great for all of us.”
The win snaps a three-game losing streak for the Judges against the Beavers. This was the 60th match up between Brandeis and Babson and the third-straight game decided in double overtime. Babson still leads the all-time series 28-22-10.
Earlier in the week, the Judges defeated local rival Lasell College with a 1-0 victory.
The match was evenly contested with Lasell holding a slight advantage in shots on goal, 4-2, while the Judges had the advantage in corner kicks, 7-3.
Lasell started the game with momentum and had a trio of great scoring chances; however, they were unable to capitalize as two of the shots sailed wide of the goal, and keeper Blake Minchoff ’13 made a spectacular save to stymie an attempt from Lasell’s Mike Skelton.
Brandeis began to turn the momentum to their side in the middle of the first half; however, just like Lasell, they were also unable to translate this new momentum into any goals.
The beginning of the second followed suit as neither side could break through the opposing defense. But in the 64th minute of play, the Judges capitalized on a great square ball from Ocel. Ocel threaded the ball through the Lasell defenders and set up Jake Picard ’16 with a one-on-one against the Lasell keeper Miguel Colmenares. Picard took advantage of the matchup, firing a low shot past Colmenares as he tried to close the space on the charging Picard.
For the next 25 minutes, Lasell fought valiantly to notch an equalizer. They nearly succeeded in sending the game to overtime but Minchoff made a sensational save on Skelton to preserve the lead for the Judges.
The Judges next contest comes on Tuesday, Sept. 25 when they take to the road for a two game swing against Wentworth and Rochester before returning home on Wednesday, Oct. 3 for a matchup against Wheaton.

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