Men's soccer team wins share of UAA title
First NCAA tournament game at 5 p.m. Saturday; tickets free for Brandeis students
Senior Sam Ocel scored in the 68th minute on an assist from classmate Lee Russo to lead the 17th-ranked Brandeis men's soccer team to a 1-0 University Athletic Association victory over rival New York University in the regular-season finale for both squads last Saturday.
With the win, the Judges finished the regular season with a 16-2-1 record, 4-2-1 in the UAA, and – for the first time ever – a share of the UAA title.
Next, coach Mike Coven’s squad l returns to campus for the opening round of the 2012 NCAA Division III tournament. First- and second-round games will be played at Gordon Field.
Brandeis takes on Baruch College (11-5-3), champions of the City University of New York Athletic Conference, at 5 p.m. Saturday. A first-round match-up between Tufts University (9-3-4) and Vassar College (12-4-3) will follow at 7:30 p.m. Winners of these games will face off at 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11.
Tickets for the matches are $6 for adults and $3 for students and seniors, and will be sold at the gate. Brandeis students will be admitted free on presentation of a university ID. Live statistics for the match will be available at http://livestats.prestosports.
The Judges ended the regular season in a remarkable four-way tie for the UAA crown with Washington University, Carnegie Mellon and Emory. With the victory over NYU at Gaelic Park in Riverdale, N.Y., coach Coven's squad finished with 13 points in the conference and moved into a tie with Carnegie Mellon. Brandeis's previous best finish in the UAA was second-place in 1990, 1997 and 2002.
In the final weekend of UAA action, Washington University took on the University of Chicago needing a win to move into sole possession of first place. The Bears and Maroons battled to a scoreless draw, putting Washington into a temporary three-way tie.
Later in the day, Emory faced sixth-ranked Carnegie Mellon University needing a win to move to the top of the standings; CMU needed only a tie to claim the league title outright. The Eagles' Sebastian Hardington scored his first goal of the season in the 72nd minute and Abe Hannigan made a match-preserving save in the 86th minute to create the historic four-way deadlock.
Carnegie Mellon earned the UAA's automatic bid for the NCAA Division III tournament by virtue of a 2-1 record against the other three teams in the tie. Brandeis was also 2-1 among the four squads, but CMU won their head-to-head match, 2-1, in Waltham on Oct. 28. Brandeis won an at-large berth to the tournament for the first time since 1985.
This marks the fourth time in school history Brandeis has won 16 games in a season (1981, 17-3-1; 1984, 19-5; 1985, 17-3), and just the third time it has happened in the regular season (1984, 1985). In two of those seasons, the Judges reached the Final Four, with the 1981 team finishing in third place and the 1984 squad finishing as national runners-up. The Judges' 1976 national championship team was 15-2.
Brandeis struggled to get on track in the first half, as NYU owned a 6-1 shooting advantage while the Judges were whistled for eight fouls to just one for the Violets. Senior Blake Minchoff made two saves for the Judges in the early going to keep the game scoreless, while NYU's Jonas Poster made his only save of the first half in the fourth minute on Brandeis's Foti Andreo.
Brandeis turned on the offensive pressure in the second half, taking eight of the first nine shots and finally breaking through. After a three-shot flurry in the 63rd minute produced two blocked shots and another that sailed wide right, the Judges earned a corner kick in the 67th minute. Russo put the corner into the mix, where it took one bounce onto the head of Ocel, who buried it for his 10th goal of the season. It was his UAA-leading seventh game-winner of the campaign, three of which came in conference play. Along with Russo, whose assist gives him 12 goals and seven assists on the season, Brandeis has two 10-goal scorers in a single season for the first time since 1994.
The Brandeis defense kept the Violets at bay from there, allowing just three shots the rest of the way. Minchoff made a save on Kyle Green in the 75th minute to finish off the shutout, his sixth of the season. The shot total finished at 12-12, with Minchoff and Poster each making three saves.