Brown men’s soccer head coach Mike Noonan pumped his fist in affirmation as the game’s final seconds evanesced.
It was as if his team had won.
Indeed, for all intents and purposes, No. 11 Brown’s 1-1 double-overtime tie with Yale at Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium on Saturday was a victory for the Bears. With the tie, Brown (9-3-2, 5-0-1 Ivy) earned the league’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid and at least a share of the conference title.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Bulldogs (9-6-1, 4-1-1) found the tie to be a devastating blow.
“It was a let-down for sure,” forward Justin Burton ’04 said. “We expected to win. Before we got to the game, I had a good feeling we were going to. It’s disappointing.”
The Bulldogs could still be co-champions. But that would entail a Yale win against Princeton and a Brown loss to Dartmouth next weekend. The odds are certainly not in the Bulldogs’ favor, as Dartmouth has yet to win a game in Ancient Eight competition this year.
“All we can do now is hope,” forward Lindsey Williams ’05 said. “We lost control of our own destiny.”
Brown got on the board just 9:29 into the contest. Adom Crew took a through ball from Jeff Larentowicz, beat his defender and blasted the ball by Bulldogs goalkeeper Matt Aleksinas ’06. It was Crew’s league-leading ninth goal of the season.
“He’s a finisher,” Burton said. “We’ve faced him four years now. We knew what to expect. If you give him a chance, he’s going to finish.”
In the 24th minute, Yale responded. The Bears were whistled for a handball in the box, awarding the Bulldogs a penalty kick. Midfielder Jay Alberts ’04 converted the penalty kick to even the score, 1-1.
Less than two minutes later, the game took a drastic turn. Andrew Daniels was issued a red card for roughage and Brown was forced to play a man down for the duration. Despite being outnumbered, the Bears were able to hold off the Bulldogs.
“In soccer, being a man down is not always such a bad thing,” Burton said. “It makes you become more focused.”
The Bulldogs outshot the Bears 13-0 in the second half and both overtimes, but could not find the back of the net, thanks in large part to the play of Bears’ goalkeeper Chris Gomez.
Gomez, who has earned a reputation as one of the best goalies in the region, was masterful on Saturday. He finished the game with seven saves. Aleksinas had one save for the Bulldogs.
“Their goalie played really well,” Williams said. “We had some good opportunities, but to his credit, he came up big.”
Looking back, midfielder Ryan Raybould ’05 said the Bulldogs might have been better off had there not been an ejection.
“We had success when they had all 11 players,” Raybould said. “We were able to score when they had a full team on the field. After [the ejection], they automatically bunkered in and we weren’t able to create as much danger. It was harder to get behind them.”
Yale returns to action next Saturday in Princeton when it takes on the Tigers (3-2-1, 6-7-3).
“We have to win,” Burton said. “We still have a shot to get an at-large berth to the tournament, but it comes down to next weekend. If we lose, it will pretty much be the end of our season.”
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