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Men’s soccer advances to Sweet Sixteen for second-straight year

By Dani Chasin

Section: Sports

November 22, 2013

The Brandeis men’s soccer team had an impressive performance this weekend, winning both the first and second round of the NCAA Division III tournament on the home field. Several fans gathered to witness the Judges dominate Saturday’s game against Johnson & Wales 3-0 and then outplay Roger Williams in a 1-0 match on Sunday. With a record of 16-4-1, the Judges advance to the Sweet Sixteen for a second-straight year.

Against Johnson & Wales, the Judges did not waste any time, scoring two goals in the first five minutes of the game. In the second minute, forward Tyler Savonen ’15 had a wide opening to the goal and after a quick touch around the Johnson & Wales goalkeeper Ryan Dzierawski, sent a cross to midfielder Michael Soboff ’15, who nailed the ball into the net. The goal was Soboff’s fifth of the season.

Fewer than three minutes later, the Judges secured their second goal of the game. Forward Sam Ocel ’14 had control of the ball and found Soboff on the left wing, who sent a crisp crossover into the box that found Savonen for the finish. The goal was Savonen’s 11th of the season. Outshooting the opponent 9-1 in the first half, the Judges carried out the rest of the period with a comfortable 2-0 lead over the Wildcats.

The Judges’ third goal came three minutes into the second half. In the minute 49 of the game, Soboff played a ball across the net to rookie forward Evan Jastremski ’17 who converted for his fifth goal of the season. Soboff earned four points and had two assists for the game. The Wildcats only managed two shots for the entire game, while the Judges pulled off an impressive 23 attempts. Goalkeeper Joe Graffy ’15 earned his seventh shutout of the season.
After falling to the Judges, the Wildcats ended their season 14-2-6.

On Sunday, the Judges faced Roger Williams in the second round of the tournament. The Hawks were fresh off a come-from-behind 3-1 win against the Rutgers-Newark Scarlet Raiders in their first-round action. Nailing three second-half goals, the Hawks looked to bring that momentum to the match against the Judges where both teams put it all on the line to earn a spot in the Sweet Sixteen.

The game started off with both teams fighting for control of the ball and a first chance on goal. In the 25th minute, the Judges scored their only goal of the game. The play began with Ocel having possession of the ball and playing it out wide to defender Ben Applefield ’14, who came up on offense from the back. Nearing the end line on the left side of the field, Applefield launched a cross into the box and found Savonen, who nailed it in the goal off a header. Savonen’s 12th tally of the season marked his fourth-straight game earning a goal and was also his fourth game winner in the campaign.

With only one goal for the game, the Judges had more attempts but put all of their effort on shutting down the Wildcats on defense. One player for Roger Williams, Trevor Hoxsie, was one of the biggest offensive threats for the team, but the Judges managed to limit him to only one shot on goal early in the first half, which was swiftly saved by Graffy. In an interview, Brandeis head coach Mike Coven said, “Hoxsie is one of the top forwards in New England, and we were able to shut him down.”

For the entire match, the Judges outshot the Wildcats 20-4 with six shots on goal and limited the opponent to only three. While Graffy saw a bit more action in the second half, the Brandeis defense managed to stay strong till the final buzzer.

With the loss, Roger Williams finished its season 16-6-2.

Now advancing to the third round of the tournament, which will be held this weekend, the Judges have more to look forward to than just returning to the Sweet Sixteen for a second year in a row. On Saturday, they will face Williams College, whom they fell to 1-0 in the same game last year. The Judges are determined to not have their season cut short by their upcoming opponent again. Fresh off these home wins, the Judges will take their momentum on the road for the ultimate showdown.

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