November 3, 2012

#17 Men's soccer tops NYU, 1-0, claims share of first UAA title

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Senior Sam Ocel (No. Attleboro, Mass./No. Attleboro) scored in the 68th minute on an assist from classmate Lee Russo (Westford, Mass./Westford Acad.) to lead the 17th-ranked Brandeis men's soccer team to a 1-0 University Athletic Association victory over rival NYU in the regular-season finale for both squads. With the win, the Judges finish the regular season with a 16-2-1 record, 4-2-1 in the UAA, and a share of the UAA title for the first time. 

The Judges claimed part of a remarkable four-way tie for the UAA crown with Washington University, Carnegie Mellon and Emory. After Brandeis defeated NYU in a match that started at 1:30, coach Mike Coven's squad finished with 13 points in the conference table and moved even with CMU. Brandeis's previous best finish in the UAA was second-place, which happed in 1990, 1997 and 2002.

WashU took on the University of Chicago at 3:30 p.m. with 12 points, needing a win to move into sole possession of first place. The Bears and Maroons battled to a scoreless draw, putting WashU and Brandeis into a temporary three-way tie.

In the day's 5:30 match, Emory traveled to sixth-ranked Carnegie Mellon needing a win to force their way to the top of the standings, while 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 preserving save in the 86th minute to create the history four-way deadlock.

Carnegie Mellon earns the UAA's automatic bid to 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 owned the head-to-head win, 2-1, in Waltham on Oct. 28. 

This marks just 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 (Fiskdale, Mass./Tantasqua Regional) made two saves for the Judges in the early going to keep the clean sheet, while NYU's Jonas Poster made his only save of the first half in the fourth minute on Brandeis's Foti Andreo (Lynn, Mass./Phillips Exeter).

Brandeis turned up its offensive pressure in the second half, taking eight of the first nine shots before 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 have come 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.