Brandeis soccer teams earn dual national rankings

Women enter poll at number 18; men up three spots to number 20

Dara Spital '15

For the first time ever, both the Brandeis men's and women's soccer teams have earned a national ranking by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) in the same season. The Brandeis men (5-0) are ranked for the second week in a row, moving up three spots to No. 20 in Division III, while the Brandeis women (4-0) enter the poll for the first time this season at No. 18. Both teams, who were ranked third in New England this week, were led by University Athletic Association Players of the Week: Lee Russo ’13 for the men and Dara Spital ’15 for the women.

The Brandeis men, under head coach Mike Coven, who is in his 40th season on the sidelines, went 3-0 last week to move up in the NSCAA poll. The Judges’ ranking is as high as it has been since the last time they were ranked in October 1997, when they reached No. 18. Brandeis is off to its best start since 2006 and has won 10 straight contests dating back to last season.

Russo earned his UAA honor by scoring five goals and contributing three assists. He opened the week with a goal and an assist in a 7-0 rout of Colby-Sawyer College on Sept. 5. In a 4-2 win over Clark University on Sept. 8, Russo was involved in three of the Judges’ four first-half goals, scoring the first goal in the 12th minute and assisting 23rd- and 37th-minute tallies.
Lee Russo
Lee Russo '13

Russo saved the best for last, registering his second career hat trick in a 4-3 overtime victory over MIT on Sep. 9. He opened the scoring in the 29th minute with a penalty kick goal and added the game’s second goal in the 62nd minute. The Judges led 3-1, after a goal in the 77th minute, but MIT scored twice in a span of 3:28 to tie the game at 3-3 with just over 10 minutes left in regulation. Early in the extra session, Brandeis earned a free kick just outside the 18-yard box, and Russo curled it over the outstretched arms of the Engineer goalkeeper for the game-winner.

The Brandeis women, under head coach Denise Dallamora who is in her 33rd year, won two games last week to move up two spots in the NSCAA New England ranking and made their first entrance in the national poll since they were also 18th in the second poll of 2011. Brandeis is one of 20 teams in Division III that has yet to surrender a goal. Their four shutouts match their season total from a year ago, while their win total is two shy of their 2011 campaign.

Spital, a transfer from Division I Central Florida, notched four of the six goals scored by the Brandeis women last week, including both game-winners. Spital scored in 12th and 47th minutes of a 4-0 win over Roger Williams University on Sept. 5. On Sept. 8, in a 2-0 upset of then-23rd-ranked Springfield College, Spital scored both goals for the Judges. She opened the scoring in the 31st minute when she knocked home a goal from her back during a mad scramble in front of the net. In the second half, she converted a nice through ball in the 79th minute to give Brandeis some breathing room.

Through two weeks of the season, Spital leads UAA with 5 goals and 13 points and is tied for league lead with 3 assists. In the NCAA’s first Division III statistical ranking of the season, Spital is 14th in total points and 28th in points per game, while her three game-winning goals are tied for third in the nation.

On Tuesday night after receiving their first ranking of the season, the Brandeis women extended their record to 5-0 with a 2-0 win at Bridgewater State University. Mary Shimko '14 scored the game-winning goal just 1:59 into the contest, while Corinne Bortniker '15 scored her first career goal in the 42nd minute. Bortniker's goal was the Judges' 14th of the season, surpassing their offensive output for the entire 2011 season.

The Brandeis women will be returning home to Gordon Field on Sept. 15 against Bowdoin College at 1 p.m. The men are next at WPI tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. and at local rival Lasell on Saturday at the same time.

For more information on Brandeis men’s soccer, visit their web page. For more information on Brandeis women’s soccer, visit their web page.

Categories: Athletics

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