Men’s soccer falls to Trinity in Sweet 16

December 4, 2015

The men’s soccer team began their NCAA Division III tournament journey at home over the weekend. The Judges entered the tournament ranked third in Division III soccer according to the NCAA website.

The team has been preparing for the NCAA tournament for quite some time though. Senior captain Conor Lanahan ’16 reports that the “coaches have been harping on the idea of one game at a time.” But the team was confident in their abilities to move victoriously through the first weekend of the tournament, looking to enter the Sweet 16. “I feel that the team knew we had earned the right to move onto the Sweet 16,” Lanahan continued.

The first two games were drama filled, ending with close 2-1 wins. The game-winning goals occurred in the final minutes of each game.

The first round saw the men facing off against Thomas College from Waterville, ME, on Saturday, Nov. 14. Thomas competed in the North Atlantic Conference in the regular season, boasting a record of 13-5-1 heading into the NCAA tournament.

The kick-off whistle blew at 5 p.m. on the Judges’ home field. The team got off to a slow start, quickly going down 0-1 in the 14th minute off a goal from Thomas’ Willie Clemons. The assist was given to DJ Nicholas. Lanahan’s confidence in the team was unwavering though. “I had no doubt that our offense would work very hard for an equalizer, and my confidence in them is what pulled me personally back into the game,” he said.

The Judges achieved the equalizer shortly after Thomas’ goal. Joshua Handler ’19 put up a successful cross from the outside, which was then headed into the back of the net by Patrick Flahive ’18 in the 24th minute. It was Flahive’s third goal of the season.

The game continued without a goal until the 90th minute, when Brandeis was able to net a goal in dramatic last-minute fashion. From 35 yards away, off a pass from Lanahan, Brandeis’ Josh Ocel ’17 booted the ball, landing it in the top right corner of the goal.

Ocel’s goal was the game-winner, advancing the Judges into the second round of the tournament to match up against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who defeated Stevens Institute of Technology later that Saturday night also in a 2-1 victory.

RPI and Brandeis met in Waltham on Sunday, Nov. 15, once again at 5 p.m. under the lights. The visiting team entered the tournament with a 12-5-3 record during the regular season, participating in the Liberty League.
The second round match-up was a game filled with tension as it resulted in similarly grandiose fashion to the Judges’ first-round game played the day before. After an early goal in the eighth minute from Flahive, the Judges retained the lead until the final minute when RPI’s Paul Lentine sent the ball into the back of the net to force the game into overtime. The Judges were not discouraged, however. As Lanahan put it, “I credit RPI to holding us to only one goal, but their goal in the last minute put a fire under us, and I could sense we were not going to go down easy.”

After a scoreless first overtime, the Judges came out aggressively quickly in the second overtime. In the 102nd minute of the game, Evan Jastremski ’17 took a shot that was initially blocked off an RPI defender, but slammed home on the second shot opportunity, securing Brandeis’ place in the NCAA Sweet 16.

Amherst College hosted the next two rounds of games for the teams sharing the Judges’ side of the bracket. Saturday, Nov. 21 against Trinity University from Texas marked the Sweet 16 game and the third round of the tournament for the Judges. During the regular season the Judges lost to Trinity 0-2 in their third game of the year. According to Lanahan, “there is a sense of redemption in all of us,” as they headed into the third round of the NCAA tournament.

However, the Judges couldn’t keep up with the Trinity offense, who scored a quick goal in the first 10 minutes of the first half and then ensured their win over the Judges with another goal late in the first half for a final score of 2-0. The loss for the Judges marked the end of their season, falling short of their goals of advancement in the NCAA tournament. The Judges finished their season 18-3-1.

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