WALTHAM, Mass. – Junior Lee Russo (Westford, Mass./Westford Acad.) scored two goals off headers, one early and one late, to lead the top-seeded Brandeis University men's soccer team past eighth-seeded Southern Vermont College, 2-0, in the quarterfinals of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III New England championship tournament. With the win, the Judges improve to 13-5-1 and move on to host the semifinals and finals, while SVC's finest season comes to a close with a 12-6-1 record.
Russo opened the scoring 9:15 into the game. The play started as rookie back Robbie Lynch (Weymouth, Mass./Weymouth) got free down the right sideline. Lynch sent a laser cross through the box that Russo was able to head home for his seventh goal of the season. The assist was Lynch's first collegiate point.
Russo tacked on the insurance goal in the 83rd minute, after sophomore back Ben Applefield (Avon, Conn./Avon) dribbled to the endline and sent another hard cross that Russo redirected inside the left post. The assist was Applefield's second of the campaign.
With his eighth goal of the season, Russo moves into Brandeis's career top 24 scoring leaders with 19 goals and eight assists for 46 points. In four career ECAC tournament games, Russo has seven goals, including a four-goal performance in last year's quarterfinal.
The Judges controlled play for the entire game, outshooting SVC, 31-0. The Mountaineers got stellar goalkeeping from rookie Connor Anniello (Scotland, Conn./Windham Tech), who made 12 saves, two shy of his career high. It was Anniello's fifth match of 10 or more stops this season. Brandeis goalkeeper Blake Minchoff (Fiskdale, Mass./Tantasqua Regional) did not have to make any saves en route to his 11th shutout of the season, setting a new Brandeis single-season record.
With the win, Brandeis will host the semifinals and finals of the ECAC tournament in their bid to win back-to-back titles and their fourth overall. The Judges will take on fifth-seeded Norwich University Saturday at noon. The Cadets defeated UMass Boston, 3-1, in the quarterfinals. The other semifinal, which will take place at 2:30 p.m., will pit second-seeded Albertus Magnus, 3-2 winners over Endicott, and third-seeded Castleton State, who prevailed over Worcester State, 2-1 in double overtime. The championship match will take place Sunday at noon at Brandeis.