Brandeis teams roll through second round of NCAA soccer

For the first time, men's and women's squads both make the Sweet 16

Photos by Sportspix/Jan Volk

Sam Ocel '13 showed why he is the UAA's Most Valuable Player this season, scoring three goals in the first two NCAA tournament games.

The men’s and women’s teams teams provided one of the most thrilling fall weekends ever in Brandeis soccer, as for the first time in the university’s history, both squads qualified for the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Tournament and advanced through the first two rounds to the Sweet 16.

Each team got a dramatic win along the way.

The Brandeis men, ranked eighth nationally by and 17th by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, earned the right to host their first two rounds on Gordon Field by virtue of their 16-2-1 regular season. Coach Mike Coven’s squad didn’t disappoint the crowd of 575 raucous fans in the opener, as they defeated Baruch College, 2-0, on a pair of first-half goals by senior Sam Ocel. Ocel, the University Athletic Association Most Valuable Player, scored both goals in the first 12:16 of the game, and the Judges controlled play the rest of the way.

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Bus transportation to next round of NCAA tournament games

This coming weekend, the men’s team faces off against Williams College on the Amherst College field on Saturday. Bus transportation to the 11 a.m. game will leave the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center at 8 a.m.

The women’s team plays Courtland State at Ithaca College, Ithaca, N.Y., at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Bus transportation will leave Gosman at 6 a.m.

Bus tickets are $5 for the round trip. All students who ride the fan bus will also receive a free ticket to the game. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Bus tickets must be paid for in advance. Tickets will be sold at Athletics Main Office in Gosman from noon to 4 p.m.Wednesday, Nov. 14, on a cash-only basis. Bus tickets are non-refundable unless bus is canceled due to insufficient demand, in which case the ticket price will be refunded. Questions? Contact Vanessa Cox.

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"Sam has been outstanding all year," said Coven. "His play speaks for itself."

In their second-round matchup, the Judges faced Vassar College, 1-0 winners in overtime against Tufts the night before. The Brewers and Judges battled back and forth for 89 minutes and 30 seconds, with both sides having goals nullified because of offside calls. The clock read 29.4 seconds left when Ocel delivered again, using his head to redirect  a cross from classmate Lee Russo to avert overtime. The goal was Ocel’s ninth game-winner of the season.

"It's the best feeling in the world," Ocel said about scoring such a dramatic goal.

"Out of the corner of my eye I saw him, and he was unmarked for whatever reason so I tried to put it in his area and he made a really nice finish," added Russo. The duo have a friendly rivalry on the team’s scoring charts, with Ocel now leading the squad with 13 goals and Russo leading with nine assists.

The Judges are in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1984, when they reached the national championship game. Coven also led Brandeis to the 1976 NCAA Division III title, one of only two team national championships in school history. Brandeis will face Williams College in the next round.

The women’s team, making its second NCAA tournament appearance in three years under head coach Denise Dallamora, advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history. The Judges reached the third round by defeating 21st-ranked Union College, 2-1 in overtime, in their Saturday opener, then handling local rival Lasell College, 3-0, on Sunday afternoon, in games played at Amherst College.

Against Union, a pair of freshmen not known for their scoring helped Brandeis to upset the nationally-ranked Dutchwomen. In the third minute of the game, rookie back Haley Schachter tapped home a rebound after a misplay by the Union defense for her second career goal – her first came with just 1.9 seconds left in the Judges’ final regular-season game. Union equalized in the 26th minute, and after a scoreless second half, rookie reserve midfielder Sarah Isaacson launched what onlookers called “a highlight reel shot”. Her first career goal was “a marvelous arcing blast over the leaping arms of [the Union goalkeeper and into the netting, sending the Brandeis bench into jubilation” 2:56 into overtime.

The Judges met Lasell for the second time this season in the second round after the Lasers stunned 12th-ranked Amherst in their opener.

Six different Brandeis players recorded points, with sophomore Sapir Edalati’s seventh goal of the season in the 13th minute proving to be the game-winner. Schachter and junior Maddie Stein also scored goals for the Judges. Brandeis senior Francine Kofinas had three saves in the first half, while sophomore Michelle Savuto had one in the second as the Judges extended their school-record shutout total to 14.

Up next for the Judges is SUNY-Cortland , which knocked off number 9 William Smith College in the second round.

Brandeis is one of four schools with both of its teams still alive in the tournament. The Brandeis men are the only one of five UAA schools selected to the tournament still playing, All four of the conference’s women’s teams (Brandeis, Carnegie Mellon, Washington University and Emory) are still in the running for a national title.

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