Men's, women's soccer teams win first NCAA tourney matches
Men defeat Baruch College, 2-0, women down Union College, 2-1
Brandeis’ men’s and women’s soccer teams both won their first-round matches in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III tournaments yesterday and advanced to second-round matches today.
In the men’s game, senior Sam Ocel scored two early goals to lead the host Judges past the Baruch College Bearcats, 2-0. With the win, the Judges improve to 17-2-1; their second round match is at 5 p.m. today at home. Baruch ends its season at 11-6-3.
In the women’s team, which was played in Amherst, Sara Isaacson scored two minutes into overtime to lift the team to a 2-1 triumph over Union College. The Judges, now 14-4-2, face Lasell College at 1:30 p.m today. Union ends its season at 15-4-0.
Ocel scored the only goal the men would need on the first shot of the game. In the fifth minute, the ball was played into the goal mouth from the right side of the 18-yard box. After a deflection by a defender, it slid through diving Baruch goalkeeper Helder Correia to the foot of Ocel, who buried it at 4:13 for his 11 goal the season. It was the eighth game-winner of the season for the University Athletic Association’s Most Valuable Player.
"Sam has been outstanding all year," said head coach Mike Coven. "His play speaks for itself."
Eight minutes and three seconds after the first score, Ocel did it again. Senior Lee Russo sent a pass into the right side of the box. Ocel was waiting at the far post to bury his twelfth of the season. He tied Russo for the team lead in goals, while Russo’s helper tied him with Ocel with eight on the campaign. Both have 32 points for the season.
The rest of the first half was fairly evenly contested, with shots finishing at 6-4 in favor of the Judges. In the second half, the Judges dominated possession, outshooting Baruch, 14-2, and controlling the midfield. Correia made several nice saves in the early going, including two on Brandeis sophomore Tyler Savonen.
The Bearcats’ two shots both were handled with high-quality saves by Brandeis senior Blake Minchoff. He came off his line in the 60th minute to beat Baruch’s Akil George to a ball right at the top of box, and preserved the shutout with more fine defense in the 76th minute. Minchoff finished with four saves and recorded his eighth shutout of the season.
"Blake has become a premier goalkeeper," Coven said. "It's just hard work. He sure put in his hours, and look what he's done these past two years."
The win was the men’s first in NCAA tournament play since 1984. It came in front of a paid attendance of 575 boisterous fans.
"We've been all over the country - UAA schools, New England schools. Nobody has better fans than we do," said Coven of the support from the crowd. "Our fans give us a little adrenaline rush. Our fans are great. What they've done this year and the way that they've come out and supported us, it's great for the school. It shows that Brandeis has school spirit. People come out to the games now, not just to see these guys play, but because it's fun and the atmosphere is fun."
In the women’s game, Brandeis scored just three minutes in when Haley Schachter tapped in a rebound from the left side following a missed shot from Sapir Edalati.
Union then settled in and dominated possession for much of the first half, eventually finding the equalizer in the 25th minute. Melissa Scinto sent a well-placed corner to the left post and Jennifer Mansfield was there to finish, evening the score at 1-1.
The Dutchwomen continued to keep the ball in Brandeis territory but could not pull ahead before the break despite taking a 9-5 edge in shots into intermission.
Brandeis came out stronger in the second half. Back-and-forth play produced early opportunities for both squads.
Union had a strong look in the 55th minute, when a collision in the box left an open net for Molly Gilchrist, who got a foot on it in the melee but saw her attempt foiled when the Brandeis defense flew in to clear just before the trickling shot could cross the line. Five minutes later, the Dutchwomen knocked again off a corner, but Gilchrist's hard shot from the right side flew just high.
With both teams fighting for advantage late, Brandeis had a strong look in the 88th minute when Dara Spital blasted a long try from the left, but a diving save from Kayla Marti kept the score knotted, sending the teams into overtime.
A highlight-reel shot two minutes into overtime won it for the Judges. Collecting a bouncing ball nearly 20 yards out on the left side, Isaacson sent a marvelous arcing blast over the leaping arms of Marti and into the netting.
Lasell advanced by defeating host Amherst, 3-1, in the day's first match. Brandeis.
(Women’s game coverage courtesy of Amherst Sports Information)