WALTHAM, Mass. - Behind two second-half goals from tournament MVP Tzlil Castel (Boston, Mass./Beaver CDS), the Brandeis University women's soccer team claimed its first-ever ECAC Division III New England tournament title with a 2-0 win over Keene State College.
Brandeis (13-6-1), the tournament's top seed, outshot third-seeded Keene State (14-9-1) in the first half, 10-5, but could not find the back of the net. The visitors actually had the closest attempt of the stanza in the 31st minute when rookie forward Katie Bradford (Lebanon, N.H.) hit the crossbar. The Judges had a number of their best attempts go just wide of the net and four chances to break in nullified by offsides calls.
In the second half, Brandeis sophomore netminder Hillary Rosenzweig (Boca Raton, Fla.) made a diving save on Keene sophomore Molly Brunelle (Walpole, N.H.) in the early going. The Owls peppered Brandeis with two early shots on goal and two corner kicks in the first five minutes before the Judges could regain momentum. After rookie Sofia Vallone (Westport, Conn.) knocked a shot over the net in the 54th minute, Brandeis regained the ball in the midfield following the ensuing goal kick. The ball found its way to rookie forward Tiffany Pacheco (Rehoboth, Mass.). She slotted a ball to Castel, who slid it past Keene sophomore netminder Samantha Hirsh (Holliston, Mass.) for what proved to be the game-winning goal.
The Judges kept up the pressure after the score, finally breaking through for an insurance goal in the 85th minute. In a similar play to the first goal, senior midfielder Sarah Jasak (Middletown, N.J.) slid a through ball past the KSC defense to Castel. She calmly deposited her 10th goal of the season, and locked up the title. The Judges were able to maintain the lead despite some late pressure by the Owls. A huge defensive play was made by junior Meredith Milstein (Waterford, Mich.), who came out of nowhere to block a shot by Keene senior Kathleen Keniston (Minneapolis, Minn.) that was headed for a wide-open net.
For the game, Rosenzweig finished with three saves to post her fourth-straight shutout and seventh of the season. Hirsh had nine stops for the Owls in the losing effort.
The ECAC crown is the first in Brandeis women's soccer history in their second trip to the tournament finals. It also marks the second ECAC crown for the University in two days, as the volleyball team won its second-straight championship on Saturday.